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Photo: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP via Getty Images

The Biogen conference held in Boston in late February has been linked to more than 333,000 coronavirus cases, a new study in the journal Science says, calling the two-day function a "superspreader event."

Why it matters: The study estimates that the conference was behind 1.9% of all U.S. cases since the pandemic got underway, spreading to 29 states. It illustrates how a single-site event with attendees who traveled from afar can spur a national outbreak.

  • The conference took place before most public health restrictions went into effect across the U.S., and therefore the virus spread more easily regionally, nationally and globally.
  • The research also reveals how the virus spread among Boston's homeless population. It was then "exported to other domestic and international sites."

Details: The study estimates that the event led to around 333,000 cases worldwide, although that number may be higher.

  • A second superspreader event in a Boston-area nursing facility that was cited in the report resulted in 24 residents who tested positive for the virus and died within two weeks of testing.

What they're saying: "[T]his study provides clear evidence that superspreading events may profoundly alter the course of an epidemic and implies that prevention, detection, and mitigation of such events should be a priority for public health efforts," the study says.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns — New cases down
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.