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This Boston event may have led to 20,000 COVID-19 cases, researcher says

Researchers suggest an event in February might be linked to 20,000 cases of COVID-19

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A security officer walks past the entrance of the closed Marriott Long Wharf hotel, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Boston. The new coronavirus was spread among Biogen executives who were meeting at the hotel in late February.

A security officer walks past the entrance of the closed Marriott Long Wharf hotel, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Boston. The new coronavirus was spread among Biogen executives who were meeting at the hotel in late February, according to researchers.

Bill Sikes,Associated Press

An event in Boston back in February might be connected to 20,000 coronavirus cases in the Boston area, researchers said in a new study this week.

  • The event led to a “viral forest fire” in Boston, the Boston Globereports.

What’s going on:

Back in February, Biogen hosted its annual conference of international biotech leaders. Scientists originally linked about 99 coronavirus cases to the event.

  • New research — which has not been peer-reviewed — suggests that the event may be linked to 20,000 cases in the Boston area.

Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, along with more than 50 researchers, looked at coronavirus cases from 772 patients and where they came from. Close to 289 of those patients had a strain that was connected to that one conference, according to Yahoo! News.

Scientists extrapolated the data to find that “tens of thousands” could have been infected from that one event since it was filled with people from all over the world.

  • “Many factors made the conference an unfortunate perfect storm as a superspreading event. That the virus was introduced at the conference at all was unlucky,” Bronwyn MacInnis, a researcher at the Broad Institute who worked on the study, told CNN  “This is not a rigorous estimate but does communicate the scale.”

Bigger picture:

This means 40% of the coronavirus cases in Boston may be linked to the conference, WBURreports,