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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 19, 2021 - Health

Fauci: U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if vaccine rollout goes to plan

NIAID director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that if the coronavirus vaccine rollout by the incoming Biden administration goes as planned, the U.S. could start to see effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early-to-mid fall.

What he's saying: "If we [vaccinate] efficiently in April, May, June, July, August, we should have that degree of protection that could get us back to some form of normality. ... But we've also got to do it on a global scale," he said at a Harvard Business Review virtual event.

Jan 20, 2021 - Health

California Rep. Raul Ruiz contracts COVID-19

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool via Getty

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) tweeted Tuesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: He is the latest member of Congress to contract the disease since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, forcing lawmakers to lock down in close quarters. Some lawmakers have criticized colleagues for refusing to wear masks while in lockdown.

Andy Slavitt cuts ties with face masks sponsor before joining Biden's COVID team

Andrew Slavitt is seen during congressional testimony in October 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

It's not just family members of President-elect Joe Biden or Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with an early optics problem.

What's happening: Andy Slavitt, an incoming White House adviser on the COVID-19 response team, has also cut ties with a major brand sponsor in anticipation of joining the Biden administration.