In times of the novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic, one may come across super spreaders. So who are these super-spreaders?


In a pandemic, individual patients who pass on an infection to a large number of people are called super-spreaders.

Some people unknowingly become the hallmark of an outbreak where they eventually have significant damaging impact on how the disease spreads.

While some carriers infect no more than two or three persons, super-spreaders can infect 100s or even 1,000s by secondary contact.


There’s nothing like a superpower super-spreaders have. Simply put, they mostly come in contact with many people, either where they work or where they live. Some do it unknowingly as they are asymptomatic.

Some are those carriers as well who, metabolically, carry the virus in large amounts while some knowingly disregard precautions and mingle without responsibility.


A super spreader can completely change the trajectory of a pandemic in a country. It has already been witnessed by certain countries dealing with exponential rise in novel coronavirus cases.

South Korea

In south Korea, a single super-spreader known as ‘Patient 31’ — a member of a fringe church — reportedly caused the rapid rise in cases in the country.

Patient 31 traveled extensively through South Korea, even after doctors suggested she isolate herself due to a high likelihood that she had been infected.

The Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) found that she ultimately had contact with approximately 1,160 people.

Over a day, South Korea saw an explosive rise in the infection.

Mumbai in Maharashtra, India

Closer home, in Maharashtra’s Mumbai, a 65-year-old woman, who served lunch near an upmarket corporate office in Prabhadevi, has tested positive for Covid-19.

Her entire family and hundreds who brought lunch from her have been sent to Kasturba Hospital for isolation.

Delhi, India

In East Delhi, a doctor from a mohalla clinic (locality clinic) tested positive after attending to a novel coronavirus positive patient from Saudi Arabia.

Nine hundred people in primary and secondary contact with the doctor are now in isolation and will be tested.

Bhilwara in Rajasthan, India

In Rajasthan’s Bhilwara, a doctor, who allegedly housed relatives from Saudi Arabia, tested novel coronavirus positive even though he was asymptomatic.

The doctor went on to infect 16 others in the same hospital where he worked. Over 8,000 people are now in isolation due to primary and secondary contact with the novel coronavirus positive medical professional.


Historically, the super-spreader has always been castigated.

Irish cook Mary Mallon (1869-1938), nicknamed ‘Typhoid Mary’, unknowingly passed on typhoid fever to hundreds of people while she had no symptoms.

Typhoid Mary ended up spending decades in exile and forced quarantine till she died.

She was unaware that she was carrying the bacterial infection, and in 1907 she was the first person in the United States to be identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the bacteria associated with typhoid disease.

By then, unfortunately, Typhoid Mary already had spread typhoid to many, with many deaths being connected to her.

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