The Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest phone fair, is moving forward with a face-to-face event in June, despite the risks of turning into a COVID-19 super spread event.
More than 100,000 people usually attend the MWC. John Hoffman, CEO of the GSM Association, which organized the show, says these numbers will be reduced this year. Told Mobile World Live It awaits around 50,000 people to travel to Barcelona, interact with each other and with the locals, and then return home.
On the event’s safety and security page, he says the organizers will “control crowd congestion” and require masks. Hoffman said that not everyone involved would expect to be vaccinated against COVID-19. “Our view is that it would be great if the world was infused, but we cannot count on that in 2021,” he said. Mobile World Live.
Instead, the group wants everyone involved to have a negative test for COVID-19 72 hours after their arrival. Testing is not a sufficient way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially when tests are done this far in advance. Someone can very easily test negative, take the virus to MWC and spread the disease on arrival. Peter Diamandis, founder of XPrize, relied on testing to hold a face-to-face conference with less than 100 people in California in January – but there was no quarantine requirement and no need to wear a mask. Dozens of people later tested positive for the virus.
Large gatherings and events can be breeding grounds for coronavirus infections, especially when they are linked to international travel. Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases, for example, were linked to a biotech conference in Boston at the beginning of the pandemic. Holding a large event puts not only the participants at risk, but also the people living in the area where the event is taking place.
The GSM Association has struggled to cancel the scheduled 2020 demonstration last February as COVID-19 emerged as a worldwide problem. Big brands like LG, ZTE, Sony and Amazon had to pull out of the group to close the event.
COVID-19 is still a major threat worldwide. Spain currently has an average of 12,000 new cases and 400 deaths a day. While the situation may improve by June, people around the world will still be vulnerable to the disease. Vaccine administration is slow in Spain and only 65,000 doses are given per day. If this pace continues, most of the population will not be vaccinated in the summer.