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COVID-19 Super-Spreaders

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COVID-19 Super-Spreaders

4 min read


People infected with the novel Coronavirus are called super spreaders. Read the article to know how a single infection spur causes a large outbreak.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anuthanyaa. R

Published At May 27, 2021
Reviewed AtApril 10, 2023


The novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) travels from place to place by infecting one person at a time. These infected people are what epidemiologists call “super-spreaders.” One disturbing trend of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the growing focus of super-spreader events. In large or small gatherings of people, just a single infection spur causes a large outbreak among attendees.

Who Is a Super-Spreader?

A super-spreader is a person who is capable and responsible for infecting others, especially a large group of people.

Transmission - Infection or pathogen is transmitted via various modes such as:

  • Air droplets.

  • Infected or contaminated surfaces.

  • Sexual contact.

  • Contaminated needles.

  • Contaminated food.

  • Water.

Interventions - In response to these super-spreaders, everyone should implement various ways to limit their impact and slow the spread of disease, depending on the mode of transmission of the pathogen. As transmission can be via airborne or through contaminated surfaces, one should follow interventions to prevent spread from either way.

  • For an airborne transmission, a face mask and face shield would be specific.

  • For contaminated surfaces, frequent hand washing and surface sterilization is required, as pathogens live on a surface for hours together.

Who All and What All Things Contribute to Super Spreading?

Person’s Behavior - A person’s behavior plays a major role in the process of super spreading. For example, when a person is sitting at a table with an infected person and talking for an extended period of time, there are chances of spreading the infection. Likewise, acts like coughing, sneezing, speaking, and singing cause the spread or propulsion of the virus to around six feet, leading to more spread of infection.

Person’s Traveling History - For example, international business travelers may travel a large part of the globe in a short period of time, so they may act as a carrier and/or positive case traveling to a large part of the globe and simultaneously spreading infection and endangering others lives.

Person’s Degree of Contact With Others - For example, an infected shopkeeper might come in contact with hundreds of people and can contaminate many goods every day. When taking the example of a healthcare worker, a sick healthcare worker might come in contact with a large number of people who are already susceptible to infection because of reduced immunity and the presence of other underlying illnesses. So they are super-spreaders at that point in time.

What Are the Characteristics of a Super-Spreader?

Let us see the characteristics of a super-spreader so that it will be helpful to limit the impact and slow down the spread of infection. Someone to be a super-spreader depends on:

  • The pathogen inside the body.

  • The patient’s biology.

  • The environment at a given point of time.

In today’s world, because of global connectivity, the ability of a pathogen to spread over a long distance and remain viable for hours together is making it possible for such a contagious spread. People often get infected and act as a spreader even before they know they are sick and act as carriers. All these things are responsible for the super spreading of infection.

How Much Is a Person Spreading or Shedding Virus to the Environment?

A person spreading or shedding viruses to the environment varies from person to person, as it depends on how their immune system works. Some people we can call highly tolerant one, and they do not feel sick. They can continue their daily routine, and it is because of their immunity, but they act as a carrier or spreaders and inadvertently infect more people.

On the other hand, people with weak immunity provide an excellent environment for virus growth and allow a very high amount of virus to replicate inside their bodies. These people, even if they limit their contact with others, they act as good transmitter. People with symptoms such as coughing and sneezing are no doubt better at spreading the virus to a new host.

Why Should We Avoid Events or Gatherings?

Super-spreader events most probably occur when smaller virus-loaded droplets float in the air for a longer period of time. It causes the spread of infectious pathogens over a longer distance, and so, unfortunately, it becomes easier to inhale. This is the reason that crowded places and indoor parties are potential super spreader events.

A confounding thing about super-spreader events is that they do not have specific exact criteria or patterns of spreading infection. It is entirely possible to have a big gathering with none or very few carriers or infected people. On the other hand, most people will get infected even in a small family gatherings.

Events such as weddings, funerals, large get-togethers, dinner parties, birthday parties, parties in the restaurant, etc., should be strictly avoided. These regular events act as a super-spreader. The more the gathering of people, the higher the risk will be. Concerts are high-risk locations as there will be more crowds, and concerts are places where there is dancing, singing, laughing, and yelling. So all the above activities lead to the propulsion of infectious droplets and keep them circulating.

People spread more viruses when they are constantly taking off their masks while having food in restaurant. So when compared, outdoor meetings will be safer than indoor. When indoors, open windows with good airflow are better.

What to Do if You Recently Attended a Gathering?

Usually, people do not know what to do but have some common questions in mind. They are,

  • What if you attended a large gathering?

  • If an unexpectedly small meeting turns out to be a large one, then what should you do?

  • What if someone from that gathering tested positive for Coronavirus?

  • What should you do afterward?

We all know that it takes this virus 4 to 14 days to incubate and show symptoms, so it is unlikely for the test to show the virus when tested after two days. So one should stay isolated and quarantined for ten days or up to seven days following any negative test that should be taken at least five days after exposure.

If you show symptoms, then contact your healthcare worker for the next steps. One should stay in isolation for at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms. One should wear a mask even while being at home, and other members at home should ensure that they are wearing a mask. Avoid exposure to others, especially those who are having less or compromised immunity.

What Is the Bubble Concept?

Bubble means family members or groups of persons should remain strictly under the same roof. But it is not possible every time. You never know where another person is going, with whom they are meeting and coming home. So it is not a bubble unless there is a strict follow-up of the rules, and members of that unit should interact only with each other and be under one roof all the time.

How to Be Safe?

In situation when one cannot recognize who is a carrier, or who is a spreader, one can rely only on their own self, that is, by wearing a mask, social distancing. When talking about a large crowd, one cannot control others to wear a mask correctly or always ask everyone to wear a mask. So it is better to avoid large crowds.


After all these risks, there is one relief by which we can control the spread, that is, to follow with right control practices such as hand washing, sanitization, wearing masks, social distancing, isolation, vaccination, and correct knowledge about its transmission. By following this, the rate of spread can be slowed down, and the spreading of the Coronavirus can be halted and save many precious lives.

Frequently Asked Questions


When Can a Person Spread COVID-19?

COVID-19, or coronavirus, is a severe and infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus. People diagnosed with the disease are most likely to spread it within the first five days. This implies that a person is contagious 48 hours before the initiation of symptoms and up to 72 hours after the symptoms reach their peak.


Is It True That Some People Are More Contagious Than Others?

It has been observed that some people tend to spread more infection than others. Hence, they have been termed superspreaders because they affect a disproportionate number of people owing to their social habits, genetics, or being in crowded places for a long.


What Are Some Ways by Which COVID-19 Spreads?

There are numerous ways through which COVID-19 spreads. However, studies report that the virus can spread through an infected person’s nose or mouth while coughing, sneezing, speaking, breathing, or making close contact. In addition, it can spread in poorly ventilated environments or crowded settings.


When Do Omicron Variant Symptoms Appear?

Omicron is a variant of coronavirus that was reported in 2021. The person becomes contagious or shows symptoms within one or two days or at least three days later. However, people with strong immunity tend to recover fast.


Can a Person Be Immune to COVID-19?

Immunity is the body’s ability to fight infectious diseases. A person can be naturally immune to COVID-19 or have vaccine-induced immunity. Current research shows that natural immunity might weaken gradually and faster than vaccine-induced one.


How Many Times Can a Person Develop a COVID-19 Infection?

A person can get infected with COVID-19 three or four times. This is because COVID-19 infection does not provide any long-lasting immunity. People keep on getting repeatedly infected because the virus mutates rapidly, and new variants come into action. Hence, there is no specific cure for COVID-19.


How Long Does COVID-19 Last in the Air?

Studies report that coronavirus loses its ability to get transmitted from an infected to a healthy person within 20 minutes of being in the air. However, the virus can remain in the air for several hours after the infected person leaves a place. The large droplets containing the virus usually settle out within a few seconds to minutes.


Can Sneeze Be One of the Symptoms of the Omicron Variant?

Omicron is one of the most dominant strains of COVID-19 in several countries. Though initially, sneezing was not considered the symptom of the Omicron variant, new studies show that people infected with the Omicron variant have coughing, sneezing, headache, and fatigue.


How Can a Person Recover From COVID-19 Quickly?

Early diagnosis, use of masks, and social distancing are the key measures to prevent and get rid of COVID-19. In addition, an infected person can do the following:
- Take adequate rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Get tested as soon as the symptoms appear.
- The patient must consult the doctor to know more about the medications required to recover from COVID-19


Why Does a Person Keep Getting Infected With COVID-19?

The tendency to get infected with COVID-19 depends on a person’s immune response. The virus enters the body and triggers an immune response, decreasing the risk of getting COVID-19 for some months. The antibodies play a crucial role in providing long-lasting immunity against COVID-19. However, some people get infected repeatedly because of the mutations and emergence of new viral strains.


Is the End of the Pandemic Near?

Though no major surge has been reported in COVID-19 cases for the past few months, nothing has been known about the exact time of the pandemic end. Hence, people must follow the required protocols to overcome the symptoms of COVID-19.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Kandi Disha Yermal
Dr. Kandi Disha Yermal



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