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Lockdown protestors at fault for tens of thousands of COVID-19 infections

Lockdown protestors at fault for tens of thousands of COVID-19 infections

Lockdown protestors at fault for tens of thousands of COVID-19 infections

A study has found that the demonstrations that were held in protest of Germany’s lockdown measures in Berlin and Leipzig led to tens of thousands of coronavirus infections that could have otherwise been prevented.

Anti-lockdown superspreaders

Researchers from the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Humboldt University in Berlin have revealed that between 16.000 and 21.000 COVID-19 cases could have been prevented if the anti-lockdown demonstrations in Berlin and Leipzig did not take place last November.

Over the course of the study, the researchers observed how the seven-day incidence rate developed in areas with a high population of people who don’t believe in the virus or are against lockdown measures. To pinpoint these regions, they looked at the proportion of AfD voters and the rate of measles vaccinations, concluding that areas with a high proportion of AfD voters and low rates of measles vaccinations are more likely to be home to more corona sceptics.

Tens of thousands of people travelled to Berlin and Leipzig last November to protest against the restrictions put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus in Germany. Researchers observed that the rate and number of infections started rising a short time later, with the incidence rate even reaching 400 in some parts of Saxony.

“Honk for hope”

The study revealed that rural areas were particularly susceptible to virus outbreaks after the protests, and researchers believe this may be due to the fact that the protestors mainly travelled to the demonstration sites via specific bus networks.

Many of the anti-lockdown protestors used buses that are tied to the “Honk for Hope” association. These buses run on a different network to other, comparable operators but still travel all over Germany, including to smaller cities and towns.

The study found that, in places with a “Honk for Hope” stop, the seven-day incidence rate after the demonstrations rose by an average of about 40, compared to places that are not served by a “Honk for Hope” stop. “We interpret this to mean that a place that is quite small, but still has a bus stop like this, must have a particularly high proportion of lateral thinking demo drivers and it is, therefore, plausible that the number of infections there will increase more sharply after the demos," said the study’s author, Martin Lange.

Preventing infections

The study warned that individuals who refuse to wear masks or adhere to social distancing regulations can have a major impact on public health. “A mobile minority that does not adhere to the applicable hygiene rules can pose a significant risk to other people," Lange said.

This doesn’t mean that large events will always lead to rising infections rates. Studies from the US found that many BLM demonstrations didn’t lead to a rise in infection rates, as participants were more willing to follow social-distancing regulations and wear face masks.

William Nehra

Author

William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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