A new study on COVID-19 cases at the Tokyo Olympics has lessons for the Beijing Games

Tokyo officials took a calculated risk by hosting the July and August Olympics. As infections of the Delta variant sparked a wave of surges around the world, including in the host city, Japan’s Olympic and government agencies believed that appropriate control measures, including vaccination, masking, testing and isolation, would quell any outbreaks and prevent outbreaks. would sustain the world’s largest sporting event. to become a super scatter brand.

That bet turned out to be largely correct, according to data recently published in a Research Letter in JAMA. What it means for the just-started 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which have started as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, will become clear as the Games take place in the coming month.
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The research, conducted by members of the Bureau of International Health Cooperation, the National Center for Global Health and Medicine Tokyo, the Infectious Diseases Control Center and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, focused on athletes, coaches and support staff. during both the Olympic and Paralympic Games which stayed in the Olympic Village. They all had to test negative twice in the days before boarding their flight to Tokyo, and were tested with a saliva test upon arrival at the airport. Athletes, coaches and support staff were tested daily in the Village.

Health officials at the airport performed 54,520 SARS-CoV-2 saliva tests and 55 people tested positive, which was confirmed by an additional PCR test using a nasopharyngeal swab. These individuals were isolated in a designated facility until they tested negative.

Read more: I’m a health writer covering the Olympics. This is what I thought of the Tokyo Games Bubble

Of the more than a million daily tests performed during both the Olympics and Paralympics, 299 were confirmed positive, resulting in a 0.03% positive rate. Based on these positive tests, 3,426 additional PCR tests were performed during the Olympic and Paralympic Games on those identified as close contacts, with 15 of these people testing positive.

The number of cases steadily increased during the Games; there were 70 positive tests on opening day, increasing to a peak of 142 on day five and decreasing in the following days.

That trend probably reflects the fact that the pseudo-bubble created for athletes in Tokyo was effective; the higher number of early-stage cases can be attributed to exposures during training camps or flights to the city. But once in Tokyo, athletes were limited to using only Olympic transportation and dining at Olympic venues with screened personnel. The report’s authors note that “public health measures during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have worked well to prevent COVID-19 clusters in the village, despite an increase in new COVID-19 cases reported during that time.” are registered in Tokyo.”

Will Tokyo’s experience translate to Beijing at the 2022 Winter Games, which start on February 4? Beijing officials are dealing with a very different virus than the one that haunted the Tokyo Olympics. Omicron is several times more transmissible than Delta, meaning the number of infections has skyrocketed. Unlike Tokyo, athletes, coaches and delegations arriving in Beijing must be vaccinated or provide an approved medical waiver requiring them to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival in the city.

Read more: What happens if an athlete tests positive at the Beijing Olympics?

The 2022 Winter Games will also be held under a stricter “bubble” than the one in Tokyo. Athletes and media in Tokyo were allowed to use public transport and mingle with the public after 14 days. In Beijing, athletes must remain in the so-called Closed Loop for their entire stay. If they test positive, athletes should go to an isolation center if they don’t have symptoms, and to a hospital if they do. They can only leave those facilities if they test negative twice 24 hours apart; it generally takes at least five days for infected people to start testing negative for the virus. For most athletes, this means that a positive test will likely prevent them from participating.

The Beijing Games also look very different from the Tokyo Olympics; all personnel dealing with Olympic athletes are dressed head to toe in white protective suits and wear masks, face shields and gloves. In Tokyo, masks and gloves were the measure of protective gear most volunteers wore.

Cases will be inevitable as people from all over the world arrive for the Beijing Olympics; almost 3% of athletes and officials have already tested positive at Capital International Airport. Since January 23, 200 positive COVID-19 cases have been detected among Olympic Games personnel, including employees. But Beijing’s stricter policies are likely to help prevent cases from erupting in widespread clusters. At least that’s what the Beijing Olympic authorities are fervently hoping for.

This post A new study on COVID-19 cases at the Tokyo Olympics has lessons for the Beijing Games

was original published at “https://time.com/6145013/olympics-covid-19-tokyo-beijing/”