A small percentage of coronavirus patients are responsible for major outbreaks, the largest study-to-date of transmission suggests.
Researchers found that, in India, less than 10 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are responsible for almost two-thirds of all new infections.
What's more, children younger than 17 were the least likely to die of the disease, but they can transmit the virus as easily as the rest of the population.
The team, led by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, in New Delhi, India, says the findings show how so-called super-spreaders are major drivers of case surges and how children are much more capable of passing on the disease than previously believed.
Researchers looked at 575,071 contacts exposed to 84,965 coronavirus patients in two states in India. Pictured: Doctors screen of the temperature and oxygen level of people at Mankhurd, on September 30, 2020 in Mumbai, India
About 8% of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 accounted for 60% of new infections among contacts and results showed that 70% of patients did not infect any of their contacts (above)
Contact tracing is considered to be one of the most important measures needed to safely reopen the economy.
All COVID-19 positive patients are asked to remember everyone they came into contact with while possibly contagious.
Those people are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks just in case they test positive for the virus.
For the study, published in the journal Science, the team looked data from two Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which have a combined population of 128 million people.
Data was collected from 575,071 individuals who were exposed to 84,965 confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.
This means that ill patients came into contact with about seven people on average.
For low-risk contacts, the infection rate was between four and five