Melody Lu

June 1, 2022

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How Is Rapid Testing Being Used In Pilot Projects Aimed At Opening Up The Events Industry?

Unmasked clubbers in Liverpool, England, returned to the dance floor, where D.J. Jayda G was on deck at a warehouse party.Credit...Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Boson Blog Post – June 2021

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc around the globe for more than a year now, and we’re still trying to adapt to the “new normal”. There have been unprecedented lockdowns, “social distancing” measures, and strict bans on travel since the pandemic outbreak began last year. With vaccines rolled out in most parts of the world already, continuous efforts are being made to run different industries with caution and strict SOPs. Take the events industry, for example. It was one of the industries that sustained the biggest losses due to the pandemic. Now, multiple pilot projects researching the use of Rapid Testing are in progress throughout the world with the goal of safely opening up the industry.

What is Rapid Testing?

Rapid tests, also known as Antigen tests, are used to identify the existence of particular protein fragments (antigens) expressed by the SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 virus in a given sample. These tests are performed on samples taken from the subject’s respiratory tract.

A rapid test costs much less than a PCR test, and test results can be determined in a very short time – generally within 15 minutes. This quick turn around time is the reason why rapid testing has shown great potential to make large-scale events possible after testing each attendee.

Rapid Testing In Pilot Projects For Opening Up The Events Industry

Over the last year or so, multiple pilot projects have been launched to gauge the effectiveness of rapid testing to bring spectators back to events. With a shorter turnaround time and lower associated costs, rapid testing is one of the best options for onsite COVID-19 screening compared to PCR tests. The ongoing debate however is with the accuracy and reliability of this type of testing. Researchers world wide are working to determine this so that rapid testing could be considered an acceptable standard internationally to open up the events industry.

Multiple pilot projects are in progress in different countries with studies being conducted to determine the efficacy of rapid testing for the events industry. Studies began in September 2020 when the Austria Center in Vienna was the first European venue to trial a major pilot project.

In March this year, the events industry saw a rock concert in Barcelona with 5000 attendees who were all wearing masks but were not socially distanced. The attendees had to undergo antigen tests before confirmation of the tickets for the event. This was probably the largest commercial event that took place successfully in Europe in more than a year of this global pandemic.

A similar trial was held just a week earlier in the Netherlands, where a 2-day music festival was hosted after performing rapid testing. Another study was conducted by Fieldlab events in the Netherlands in the last week of March, where 5000 spectators were allowed to enter the football stadium after undergoing rapid tests to watch the match between Latvia and Netherlands live.

Most recently, on May 3, 2021,  3000 attendees participated in a 2-day indoor dance party pilot project held in Liverpool, UK where no masks or social distancing was required. The event is being studied by public health researchers to assist in bringing audiences back to such events throughout the UK safely this summer.  All ticket holders were required to undertake a “rapid lateral flow test” before reaching the venue and upload their results to a website.  All results were then linked to their personal ticket for final entry into the venue.  This pilot project is included in a research program to establish how different venues – including sports stadiums, wedding venues, theatres, nightclubs, and conference centers – could start operating by summer this year.

The Takeaway

Considering that around 40 percent of individuals with COVID-19 infection are asymptomatic and can still transmit it to others, DIY rapid testing at a bigger scale could help curb the spread of the virus exponentially.

While the idea of an event bubble has evidenced reliable results, still it’s too early to treat rapid testing as a surefire way of avoiding the transmission of the virus. At this experimental stage, the event planners are suggested to;

  • Limit the number of attendees to prevent the exponential spread of COVID-19
  • Take a follow-up from every attendee about their health to limit the chances of onward transmission
  • Make sure that everybody is strictly following the SOPs devised for such events where the attendees go off-guard after undergoing rapid testing

These pilot projects will surely be a big leap ahead in defining a standard approach for making big-scale future events happen safely. Sharing the insights from these global studies can help curb the spread of the virus globally. At this stage, with limited information available from such studies, it won’t be wrong to assume that frequent rapid tests could be a potential game-changer for the events industry before the COVID-19 vaccines reach everywhere in the world.


Delta Variant and Rapid Testing

Rapid testing cannot detect Delta Variant, but it can identify infected cases of COVID-19, especially during the early days of the disease when the viral load is higher. Boson Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen tests are effective in detecting COVID-19 Delta variants.

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How Is Rapid Testing Being Used In Pilot Projects Aimed At Opening Up The Events Industry?

Unmasked clubbers in Liverpool, England, returned to the dance floor, where D.J. Jayda G was on deck at a warehouse party.Credit...Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

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