Some 2,000 people attended a concert in the city of Leipzig organized by scientists seeking to study the risk of virus transmission during large events. There are high hopes as large entertainment venues remain shut.

Scientists from the German University of Halle observed conditions on Saturday at an experimental concert in the eastern city of Leipzig, where they hope to learn more about the risk of infection at large events.

The study comes as events and large gatherings remain banned in Germany until at least November. Most concert organizers and entertainment industry staff have seen their work dry up in recent months.

Popular German singer Tim Bendzko volunteered to play three separate concerts over the course of the day, which would test different configurations of the event.


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Thousands crowd into an indoor rock concert in experiment on how to return to normality

Nadine Schmidt and Amy Woodyatt, CNN • Leipzig, Germany (CNN) — Ever since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered clubs, bars and concert halls around the world, music fans have been dreaming of the day they can once again visit a busy, sweaty venue to enjoy a gig with friends.

With infection rates rising in many European countries, this dream could be far off for now. But some music fans in Leipzig, Germany, have been given the chance to rock for a day in the name of science — with the help of some glowing hand sanitizer and electronic trackers.

Researchers in the German city of Leipzig staged a 2,000-person experimental indoor concert on Saturday to better understand how Covid-19 spreads at big, busy events, and how to prevent it.

At the gig, which featured a live performance from musician Tim Bendzko, fans were given respiratory face masks, fluorescent hand gel and electronic “contact trackers” — small transmitters that determine the contact rates and contact distances of the individual experiment participants.

Using data from the contact trackers, scientists from The University of Halle will monitor the number “critical contacts” had by each participant during specific times and locations, while the residue left by fluorescent hand gel will identify frequently touched surfaces. Researchers hope to use the data to find ways to bring big events back safely.

Professor Michael Gekle, the dean of the university’s medical faculty and a professor of physiology, told CNN the experiment was being conducted to better prepare authorities on how to conduct events in the upcoming autumn and winter seasons.

“We cannot afford another lockdown,” he said. “We have to gather the data now in order to be able to make valid predictions,” he said.

“There is no zero risk if you want to have life. We want to give the politicians a tool in order to decide rationally whether to allow such an event or not. That means they have to have the tool to predict how many additional infected people such an event will produce,” he said.

Researchers directed volunteers to run three scenarios — one that simulated a concert pre-coronavirus, a second simulating a concert during the pandemic, with improved hygiene measures in place, and a third, with reduced participants. Scientists will gather the data, apply a mathematical model, and evaluate the hygiene interventions, with conclusions ready by the end of the year.

Read the research here:

Nadine Schmidt reported from Leipzig, Germany. Amy Woodyatt wrote from London.

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