Three experimental concerts were held in Germany so that researchers could get data on the spread of coronavirus and the associated risks when resuming mass events.
On Saturday at the indoor arena in Leipzig, three test concerts of pop artist Tim Bendzko were attended by about one and a half thousand people. All volunteer spectators passed the text on coronavirus in advance, and during the concert, they were wearing masks.
In such an unusual way, researchers from Halle-Wittenberg University are studying how the coronavirus spreads, Deutsche Welle reports.
As part of the so-called Restart19 study, German scientists plan to find out how to safely hold crowded cultural and sports events without creating a risk of COVID-19 infection for the population.
Different conditions were created at each of the three concerts. One scenario mimicked a pre-coronavirus concert, the second was a pandemic concert with enhanced hygiene measures, and the third was conducted with a limited number of participants. In particular, in one of the scenarios, the audience kept their distance, but on the other, they did not.
“I am very pleased with the discipline shown by the participants,” said experiment leader Stefan Moritz at a press conference after the concert. “I was surprised at how disciplined everyone in the masks was.”
Spectators were equipped with special sensors with which scientists can track their movements. Participants in the experiment were also provided with fluorescent disinfectants, so scientists can use ultraviolet light to find out what the public has touched most often. Scientists will also study how particles that could carry the virus were spread through the air during the concert.
The researchers say this is the first experiment of this magnitude in Europe, but warn that different considerations need to be taken into account depending on the type of event, the behavior of concertgoers and whether attendees are allowed to consume alcohol: “Of course, a concert with Rammstein would be different.”
Based on the data obtained, the researchers want to create a mathematical model that will help assess the risks of contracting coronavirus at a mass event in an enclosed space. The results of the experiment, funded by the federal states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, are expected in the fall – in about four to six weeks.
The dean of the Halle University School of Medicine and physiology professor Michael Heckle told CNN that the experiment is being conducted to better prepare the authorities for the resumption of cultural and sporting events in the coming autumn and winter seasons: “We cannot afford a new quarantine. We need to collect data now to be able to make reliable predictions. ”
“We want to give politicians a tool so that they can rationally decide whether to allow such events or not,” explained Professor Heckle, arguing that there is no “zero risk”. “This means they have to have a tool to predict how many more infected people will perform such an event.”
Heckle told CNN that due to the low prevalence of the virus in Saxony and surrounding regions, participation in the study posed a low risk for volunteers who were tested for coronavirus 48 hours before participation and were wearing masks during the show: “It’s safer than flying Mallorca “.
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, the decision to authorize the concert of German singer Sarah Connor, scheduled for September 4 in Düsseldorf with the participation of 13 thousand spectators, drew sharp criticism from virologists and local politicians amid fears of a new outbreak of coronavirus infection.