26 March 2021 Vol 371, Issue 6536
Age groups that sustain resurging COVID-19 epidemics in the United States
By Mélodie Monod, Alexandra Blenkinsop, Xiaoyue Xi, Daniel Hebert, Sivan Bershan, Simon Tietze, Marc Baguelin, Valerie C. Bradley, Yu Chen, Helen Coupland, Sarah Filippi, Jonathan Ish-Horowicz, Martin McManus, Thomas Mellan, Axel Gandy, Michael Hutchinson, H. Juliette T. Unwin, Sabine L. van Elsland, Michaela A. C. Vollmer, Sebastian Weber, Harrison Zhu, Anne Bezancon, Neil M. Ferguson, Swapnil Mishra, Seth Flaxman, Samir Bhatt, Oliver Ratmann, on behalf of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team
Science26 Mar 2021 Open Access
More targeted interventions in the 20-to-49 age group could bring epidemic waves under control and facilitate the safe reopening of schools.
How can the resurgent epidemics of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) during 2020 be explained? Are they a result of students going back to school? To address this question, Monod et al. created a contact matrix for infection based on data collected in Europe and China and extended it to the United States. Early in the pandemic, before interventions were widely implemented, contacts concentrated among individuals of similar age were the highest among school-aged children, between children and their parents, and between middle-aged adults and the elderly. However, with the advent of nonpharmaceutical interventions, these contact patterns changed substantially. By mid-August 2020, although schools reopening facilitated transmission, the resurgence in the United States was largely driven by adults 20 to 49 years of age. Thus, working adults who need to support themselves and their families have fueled the resurging epidemics in the United States.