A team of scientists using genetic sequencing found that between 205,000 and 300,000 coronavirus cases across the US are linked to a “superspreader” medical conference in Boston in late February.
The conference was previously thought to have been associated with about 20,000 cases in the Boston metro area, but the researchers say it actually spread much further after about 100 people caught the virus at the gathering, CBS News reported.
Through Nov. 1, the genetic marker found in the strain of the virus linked to the conference was found in 51,000 cases around Boston.
It also spread to other locations where conference attendees returned, including in Florida, where 29 percent of the conference-linked cases ended up; Indiana and North Carolina. The strain of virus was found as far away as Australia and Slovakia, according to the research, published in the journal Science.
“We don’t think these strains had a propensity to spread more than any other,” said Jacob Lemieux, the study’s lead author. “We suspect that these types of events have been happening over and over again, and are major contributors to the propagation and spread of SARS-cov2 throughout the world.
People walk outside the Marriott Long Wharf hotel in Boston.Steven Senne/AP
Biogen in a statement said the pandemic has had a “very direct and personal impact” on the company and hoped the study would “continue to drive a better understanding of the transmission of this virus and efforts to address it.”