Researchers have connected a "viral forest fire" in Boston to a single biotechnology conference back in February, The Boston Globe reports.
Scientists originally attributed 99 coronavirus cases in the Boston area to meeting of international biotech leaders at Biogen's annual conference. But in new research released Tuesday that has yet to be peer reviewed, three scientists revised their estimates to suggest 20,000 cases in the Boston area actually came from the event at a Marriott hotel.
Three scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, along with more than 50 other researchers, isolated coronavirus cases from 772 local patients to track where they came from. Of those patients, 289, or more than a third, had a strain of virus traceable to the conference. From there, the scientists extrapolated that "tens of thousands" of people were likely infected after people from around the world mixed at the late February conference. And as of July 1, the conference would've been responsible for 40 percent of coronavirus cases in the Boston area, WBUR notes.
The study doesn't mention Biogen by name, but Biogen still responded to the study with a statement and did not dispute its findings. "We never would have knowingly put anyone at risk," Biogen said, noting that the conference happened before much was known about the coronavirus, and saying it "took steps to limit the spread" even before knowing if workers who got sick had COVID-19.
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