One of the many mysteries surrounding Covid-19 is why so few people seem to be responsible for transmitting it to so many. Preliminary research published in Epidemiology suggests that fewer than 20 percent of Covid-19 carriers are responsible for 80 percent of new cases.

"The overwhelming majority of people infect very few people or none at all," says Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Basically, it's a select minority of individuals who are aggressively spreading the virus. These are the so-called 'super spreaders.' "

How many people do you need to infect to be considered a high-risk individual? There's no specific number, says Dr. Glatter. But it's more than the two or three people researchers say a Covid-19 patient infects, on average. The bigger mystery is why some people spread the virus to so many people and others do not.

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