Amid uncertainty of the fourth COVID wave fuelled by the Delta variant, research shows attending in-person business events is safer than daily activities like going to the grocery store, and that hosting the events does not increase local COVID-19 case rates.
In fact, for recent August events, the infection rates were as much as 95 percent lower than the U.S. at large. Modelling found risks of infection at events to be as much as eight times less than the metropolitan area where they were being held.
The findings are the result of a research partnership between Freeman, a leading global event agency, and Epistemix, a computational modelling software company that develops simulations to fight disease and inform public health policy.
“Businesses and organizations want to get back to events for critical commerce, networking and exchange of ideas,” says Freeman CEO, Bob Priest-Heck. “This research provides the framework for doing so safely.”
Other key findings include in-person business event participants are more likely to be vaccinated than the U.S. population, reflecting a vaccination rate above 80 per cent and creating vaccination coverage that drastically cuts transmission of COVID-19 at those events regardless of the gathering size.
As well, despite some concerns over the Delta variant, the majority of attendees and exhibitors want to return to in-person events, with more than 90 per cent not opposed to additional health and safety protocols to enable them to gather safely. Further, those who do not support additional protocols say they would choose to stay home, mitigating any added risks of potential infections.
Freeman has been tracking participant sentiment with more than three million responses to date. This is the largest industry panel available on attitudes and behaviours related to COVID-19 and in-person business events.
Epistemix’s modelling represents more than two dozen cities and key event destinations with back-testing confirming its model forecasts.
“We recognize the current rise in Delta variant cases has led some event organizers and exhibitors to consider cancellations,” says John Cordier, CEO and co-founder of Epistemix. “Our modelling and these data can help organizers and public health officials replace that uncertainty with confidence to plan safe events.”