Over time, papers or reports may come to be taken for granted as evidence for some phenomenon. Researchers cite them without critically re-examining findings in the light of subsequent work. This can give rise to misleading or erroneous results and conclusions. We explore whether this has occurred in the widely reported outbreak SARS-CoV-2 at a rehearsal of the Skagit Valley Chorale in March 2020, where it was assumed, and subsequently asserted uncritically, that the outbreak was due to a single infected person.

Study design

Review of original report and subsequent modelling and interpretations.


We reviewed and analysed original outbreak data in relation to published data on incubation period, subsequent modelling drawing on the data, and interpretations of transmission characteristics of this incident.


We show it is vanishingly unlikely that this was a single point source outbreak as has been widely claimed and on which modelling has been based.


An unexamined assumption has led to erroneous policy conclusions about the risks of singing, and indoor spaces more generally, and the benefits of increased levels of ventilation. Although never publicly identified, one individual bears the moral burden of knowing what health outcomes have been attributed to their actions. We call for these claims to be re-examined and for greater ethical responsibility in the assumption of a point source in outbreak investigations.

Fuente: Public Health

Available online 14 November 2022