Who is the superspreader that infected Trump? There is a genetic tool available to find out if the White House wanted to use it

skynews graphic donald trump
Donald Trump and his close aide Hope Hicks, whose diagnosis prompted the test that confirmed the US president had the virus. Credit: SkyNews

The [White House Rose Garden] gathering has been described as a superspreader event, as at least a dozen guests have reported testing positive since. A debate has flared over whether the White House has done enough to trace; guests weren’t immediately notified, and the involvement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been restricted. Meanwhile, the cluster continues to grow, as a Federal Emergency Management Agency memo reported October 7 that so far, 34 White House staffers, housekeepers, and “other contacts” have been infected with the coronavirus, along with the president, the First Lady, a Navy admiral, and a number of campaign aides.

But Trump and his cadre may have been exposed before the Barrett ceremony, given social distancing and mask wearing aren’t always practiced at their campaign events.

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If White House officials decide to use genetic sequencing, as experts have called for, they could better determine how to stop the virus from spreading among the country’s political leaders.

In the case of the 12 positive cases from the Rose Garden event, a genomics survey could determine how to conduct contact tracing. If they all have the same viral variant, they were likely first exposed there, and you’d want to trace all their contacts since that date. But if they have multiple variants, that could imply more than one person carried COVID-19 into the White House—and then far more people would need to be traced.

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