An interesting read
It’s not R.
The writer of this article has heard something interesting and thrown it in with a pile of related big words to try and make a point, which they've missed entirely. Interesting, but incorrect.
R0 (how fast the virus is spreading) and K (how it is spreading) are not competing variables as has been presented here. They serve different purposes and tell us different things. This journalist hasn't just stumbled on some secret sauce that every epidemiologist and public health expert in the world has missed or is trying to keep secret for some reason - they are already aware of the distribution of the virus, but that's not what is important in monitoring the spread of the virus, which is what R0 is being used for.
R0 has been so widely spoken about and tracked so closely because it is the variable that tells us how quickly the virus is spreading. A high R0 figure means that the virus is spreading quickly, because each person on average is spreading it to more people. When public health measures are successful they result in a lower R0 figure, because the spread of the virus has slowed as each person spreads the virus to less other people. In order to "flatten the curve" the spread needed to be slowed, hence the monitoring of R0.
Public health is managed at a population level, not an individual or local level. It is interesting and useful to note that COVID-19 has more of a tendency to spread via clusters and it informs public health policy - ie reduce gathering sizes, limit public events, etc etc - but it would be a completely useless thing to monitor as a means of measuring performance in combating the virus. It's not going to suddenly change its distribution patterns or mechanisms. The variable to monitor performance here is R0, hence.. funnily enough.. we monitor R0.
As to the points the article makes about contact tracing, again, the writer has missed the point. She presents it as an "either/or" position, where contact tracers work forwards from when the patient is likely to have been infected but says that they instead should be working backwards to find where they contracted it. This misses the point of why contact tracing is being done - not to paint a history of the virus and create headlines by identifying clusters, but to find people who may have the virus and not know about it. Going backwards in time searching for potential clusters that may or may not exist would take significantly more resources and provide limited additional value. Think about it - How far back do you go, if not the current standard 2 weeks, 4 weeks? 6? And then what? Every single person for those additional weeks becomes another contact to get tested? The logic presented in the article is that by going back to find who the person was infected by, then contact trace from them - But to what end? and for what value? If they were infected by some super-spreader as suggested then other infected people will come forward and be tested anyway, contact tracing will do its thing and we are in the same place for less resources... For some reason the author seems to believe that this would better allow us to identify clusters and super-spreaders .... How does the author think that all of the current clusters and super-spreaders were identified? With the current contact tracing methods...