August 25, 2020 at 11:51 AM EDT
A single superspreading event sent coronavirus across Massachusetts — and the nation
None of the biotech executives at the meeting noticed the uninvited guest. They had flown to Boston from across the globe for the annual leadership meeting of the drug company Biogen, and they were busy catching up with colleagues and hobnobbing with upper management. For two days they shook hands, kissed cheeks, passed each other the salad tongs at the hotel buffet, never realizing that one among their number carried the coronavirus in their lungs.
By the meeting’s end on Feb. 27, the infection had infiltrated many more people: a research director, a photographer, the general manager for the company’s east division. They took the virus home with them to the Boston suburbs, Indiana and North Carolina, to Slovakia, Australia and Singapore.
A new study that examines the spread of the virus at the Boston convention is probably the largest genomic analysis of any U.S. outbreak so far and is among the most detailed looks at how coronavirus cases exploded in the pandemic’s first wave.
By Sarah Kaplan and Chris Mooney