By now, almost everyone has heard the term “reproduction number” or “R”, the average number of new infections caused by one infected person. This value is being closely watched around the world as it is used to monitor how quickly the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spreading.

However, there is another important value being tracked, the “dispersion factor”, or “K”. K is a measure of exactly how much a pathogen infects people who are in a cluster, such as a family unit, or a club, or a choir. 

The Science article Why do some COVID-19 patients infect many others, whereas most don’t spread the virus at all? explores what we know and suspect about how and under what conditions SARS-CoV-2 spreads (ambient temperature and how much  the infected person is attempting to project their voice are just two of the aspects that are being investigated – please read the article for more discussion on these factors). 

Currently, there’s a lot of second-guessing happening about how useful the shutdowns that were put in place to limit the spread of the pandemic have actually been This paragraph from the article offers an important insight:

If public health workers knew where clusters are likely to happen, they could try to prevent them and avoid shutting down broad swaths of society, Kucharski says. “Shutdowns are an incredibly blunt tool,” he says. “You’re basically saying: We don’t know enough about where transmission is happening to be able to target it, so we’re just going to target all of it.”

As time passes and more continues to be learned about how SARS-CoV-2 is spread and dispersed, scientists will be able to continue to tailor public health guidance to help societies re-open in an informed and safe manner while minimizing the spread of this disease. 

That is something we can all look forward to.

(Medical photo created by kjpargeter – www.freepik.com)

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE: Remember and share with others that science and knowledge about this virus is still very new and evolving, so public health guidance will also change. Adaptations in public health policy are good as long as they are driven by research and by informed assessment of all risks. 

By now, almost everyone has heard the term “reproduction number” or “R”, the average number of new infections caused by one infected person. This value is being closely watched around the world as it is used to monitor how quickly the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spreading.

However, there is another important value being tracked, the “dispersion factor”, or “K”. K is a measure of exactly how much a pathogen infects people who are in a cluster, such as a family unit, or a club, or a choir. 

The Science article Why do some COVID-19 patients infect many others, whereas most don’t spread the virus at all? explores what we know and suspect about how and under what conditions SARS-CoV-2 spreads (ambient temperature and how much  the infected person is attempting to project their voice are just two of the aspects that are being investigated – please read the article for more discussion on these factors). 

Currently, there’s a lot of second-guessing happening about how useful the shutdowns that were put in place to limit the spread of the pandemic have actually been This paragraph from the article offers an important insight:

If public health workers knew where clusters are likely to happen, they could try to prevent them and avoid shutting down broad swaths of society, Kucharski says. “Shutdowns are an incredibly blunt tool,” he says. “You’re basically saying: We don’t know enough about where transmission is happening to be able to target it, so we’re just going to target all of it.”

As time passes and more continues to be learned about how SARS-CoV-2 is spread and dispersed, scientists will be able to continue to tailor public health guidance to help societies re-open in an informed and safe manner while minimizing the spread of this disease. 

That is something we can all look forward to.

(Medical photo created by kjpargeter – www.freepik.com)

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE: Remember and share with others that science and knowledge about this virus is still very new and evolving, so public health guidance will also change. Adaptations in public health policy are good as long as they are driven by research and by informed assessment of all risks. 

BLOG POST AUTHOR

Cindy Beernink, ND, M.Ed. lives and works in Toronto, ON. She is a founding member of the Naturopathic Alliance.