Biogen conference linked to up to 300,000 COVID-19 cases

A team of scientists using genetic sequencing found that between 205,000 and 300,000 coronavirus cases in the US are linked to a “super-spreader” medical conference in Boston in late February.

The conference was previously thought to have been associated with about 20,000 cases in the Greater Boston area, but researchers say it actually spread much more after about 100 people contracted the virus at the meeting, CBS News reported.

As of November 1, the genetic marker found in the virus strain linked to the conference was found in 51,000 cases in Boston.

It also spread to other places that conference attendees returned, including Florida, where 29 percent of conference-related cases ended; Indiana and North Carolina. The virus strain was found as far away as Australia and Slovakia, according to the research, published in the journal Science.

“We don’t think these strains had a propensity to spread more than any other,” said Jacob Lemieux, lead author of the study. “We suspect that these types of events have been happening over and over again and are the main contributors to the spread and spread of SARS-cov2 around the world.

People walk outside the Marriott Long Wharf hotel in Boston.
People walk outside the Marriott Long Wharf hotel in Boston.
Steven Senne / AP

Biogen in a statement said the pandemic has had a “very direct and personal impact” on the company and hoped that the study “will continue to drive a better understanding of the transmission of this virus and efforts to address it.”