Culture 04/08/2021

Infections in music festivals twice as high as expected

2.279 people were infected at concerts, 842 more than expected, in a time of acceleration of the fifth wave

2 min
Audience at the Canet Rock 2021 festival

BarcelonaThe three massive summer festivals held in early July, during the fifth wave caused by the delta variant, led to 76% more infections than the Health Department expected, and as many as double the cases expected in Vida Festival and Canet Rock. In total it is estimated that 2,279 people were infected, 842 cases more than expected in the 14 days after the festivals, out of a total of 49,570 attendees. It has also been identified that 271 people entered the festivals after testing positive. Instead of quarantining, they continued towards the venue and hoped they wouldn't be stopped - and weren't.

The Health Department admits that the fact that the audience were standing and did not keep safe distances was the main reason for transmission, because the attendees "lowered their guard", that is, they took off their masks probably because of the "false sense of security a negative test gives". Therefore, the Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, says that, in the current epidemiological conditions, "you cannot hold festivals with a standing audience; they have to be seated and always keeping a safe distance".

This Wednesday the figures of the three musical events, which were planned as clinical trials, have been made public. This means that they have compared the results of the attendees registered by the festival with a control group that had similar conditions of sex, age, area of residence and immune status, using anonymised data. This is a very similar analysis to the one made for the people who were picked to man polling stations.

Vida and Canet Rock festivals clearly accelerated the fifth wave, while Cruïlla took place when the fifth wave was already underway (and therefore a higher level of contagion was already expected).

Cabezas has played down the results and the festivals' impact: "There were about 800 extra cases; in the framework of the fifth wave, in which we had 8,000 a day and many more outbreaks, such as those of Mallorca and Menorca and those linked to graduation parties, it is a contribution but among many others. It was a factor, yes, but not a superspreader, as there were only 800 cases among 50,000 attendees". He also recalled that it was "a time of opening for summer" linked to a previous epidemiological situation