Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston highlights the impact of superspreading events

Jacob E. Lemieux, Katherine J. Siddle, Bennett M. Shaw, Christine Loreth, Stephen F. Schaffner, Adrianne Gladden-Young, Gordon Adams, Timelia Fink, Christopher H. Tomkins-Tinch, Lydia A. Krasilnikova, Katherine C. DeRuff, Melissa Rudy, Matthew R. Bauer, Kim A. Lagerborg, Erica Normandin, Sinéad B. Chapman, Steven K. Reilly, Melis N. Anahtar, Aaron E. Lin, Amber CarterCameron Myhrvold, Molly E. Kemball, Sushma Chaluvadi, Caroline Cusick, Katelyn Flowers, Anna Neumann, Felecia Cerrato, Maha Farhat, Damien Slater, Jason B. Harris, John A. Branda, David Hooper, Jessie M. Gaeta, Travis P. Baggett, James O'Connell, Andreas Gnirke, Tami D. Lieberman, Anthony Philippakis, Meagan Burns, Catherine M. Brown, Jeremy Luban, Edward T. Ryan, Sarah E. Turbett, Regina C. LaRocque, William P. Hanage, Glen R. Gallagher, Lawrence C. Madoff, Sandra Smole, Virginia M. Pierce, Eric Rosenberg, Pardis C. Sabeti, Daniel J. Park, Bronwyn L. MacInnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


Analysis of 772 complete severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genomes from early in the Boston-area epidemic revealed numerous introductions of the virus, a small number of which led to most cases. The data revealed two superspreading events. One, in a skilled nursing facility, led to rapid transmission and significant mortality in this vulnerable population but little broader spread, whereas other introductions into the facility had little effect. The second, at an international business conference, produced sustained community transmission and was exported, resulting in extensive regional, national, and international spread. The two events also differed substantially in the genetic variation they generated, suggesting varying transmission dynamics in superspreading events. Our results show how genomic epidemiology can help to understand the link between individual clusters and wider community spread.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabe3261
Issue number6529
StatePublished - Feb 5 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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