The coronavirus didn’t circulate widely at a huge anime convention in New York in November that was notoriously linked to one of the first US cases of the omicron variant of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed. in a study Thursday, a feat the health agency credited the event’s indoor mask policy and Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
The CDC tracked down coronavirus test results for 4,560 of the more than 50,000 Anime NYC convention attendees, of whom only 119 (or 2.6%) came back positive, meaning “evidence of widespread transmission during the event was not identified” (the CDC did not identify the convention by name, but its description matched Anime NYC).
Only one person with Covid-19 ended up in hospital and no deaths were reported.
The CDC believes the convention’s strict Covid-19 mitigation rules — attendees must wear masks and show proof of partial coronavirus vaccination — and the Javits Center air filtration system probably helped stop the virus from spreading out of control.
Some transmission may have occurred outside of the convention hall: attendees who caught Covid-19 were more likely to report visiting bars (16.7% positive and 6.9% negative), discotheques (10.4% against 3%) or karaoke rooms (18.8% against 2.4%).
A separate CDC study released on Thursday focused on a Minnesota man who attended Anime NYC and later became the second person in the United States diagnosed with omicron: out of a group of 30 that included the Minnesota man and 29 close contacts of the convention, 23 took coronavirus tests and 16 tested positive, most of whom also visited bars, restaurants and karaoke rooms.
The CDC says its study of the convention had some limitations. In particular, while around 53,000 people reportedly attended the event, researchers could only send out surveys and search for Covid-19 test results for around 35,000 people with contact details available. The study also looked for positive tests by matching participants’ names and addresses with local Covid-19 surveillance data, meaning home tests and some other records may not have been included.
In the days of Anime NYC, the delta variant compound almost all coronavirus cases in the United States. Similarly, of 20 positive convention tests whose genomes have been sequenced, 75% were related to delta and 25% were caused by omicron – and all cases of omicron were in the Minnesota man’s band. If the highly contagious omicron variant was dominant in New York City at the time of the convention, transmission could have been higher, the CDC says. warned Thursday.
Minnesota health officials revealed an omicron case linked to Anime NYC in early December, just a day after the country’s first omicron-positive patient was discovered in California. Within weeks, omicron accounted for the vast majority of the nation’s coronavirus infections, fueled a record rise in daily Covid-19 cases, and forced officials in states like New York and California to reintroduce mask-wearing rules. Researchers think of omicron causes less severe disease than previous variants, but its increased transmissibility still helped drive U.S. hospitalizations to record highs and cause a increase in Covid-19 deaths.
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