Crowded indoor spaces, including private households, are vulnerable to a particularly high level of COVID-19 transmission, a new study found.
Published Monday in the JAMA Medical Journal, a comprehensive analysis of 54 individual studies featuring a total of 77,758 participants observed COVID-19 transmission from one person to another in a shared household was 16.6 percent — higher than comparable coronaviruses like MERS and SARS.
It also confirmed that household transmission rates could stay high even in areas where broader community transmission rates were low.
“The findings of this study suggest that given that individuals with suspected or confirmed infections are being referred to isolate at home, households will continue to be a significant venue for transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the authors wrote.
Researchers also noted that virus transmission within households was higher with patients who were symptomatic than patients who were asymptomatic.
Spread within households was also higher between infected adults than in children, as well as between spouses rather than other family contacts.
COVID-19 infections flourishing in households could be due to a number of factors, namely close contact with others in an environment with circulated air. However, scientists note that it could also be attributed to structural differences in the COVID-19 spike protein and higher viral loads in the nose and throat upon symptom onset.
Additionally, some COVID-19 infections tend to be mild and do not require hospitalization — making it easier to spread between people in a shared space.
"This is yet another study that reminds us of how contagious the virus that causes Covid-19 is, and how hard it is to keep from infecting others if one lives in crowded, multigenerational housing," CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, commented.
Wen was not involved in the study.
Source: The Hill