230208 Martin Grunnill
Modelling Disease Mitigation at Mass Gatherings: A Case Study of COVID-19 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Speaker: Martin Grunnill, York University

Date and Time: Wednesday, February 8, 2023 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm


The 2022 FIFA World Cup was the first international sporting Mass Gathering Event (MGE) of the post COVID-19 era to allow foreign spectators. Such large-scale MGEs can potentially lead to outbreaks of infectious disease and contribute to the global dissemination of such pathogens. Here we adapt previous work and create a generalisable model framework for assessing the use of disease control strategies at such events.

This framework utilises a combination of meta-populations based on clusters of people and their vaccination status, ODE integration between fixed time events, and Latin Hypercube sampling. We use the FIFA 2022 World Cup as a case study for this framework. Pre-travel screenings of visitors was found to have little effect in reducing COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations. With pre-match screenings of spectators and match staff being more effective, Rapid Antigen (RA) screenings outperforming RT-PCR based screenings. A combination of pre-travel RT-PCR and pre-match RA testing proved to be the most successful screening-based regime. However, a policy of ensuring that all visitors had a COVID-19 vaccination (second or booster dose) within a few months before departure proved to be much more efficacious. The State of Qatar abandoned all COVID-19 related travel testing and vaccination requirements over the period of the World Cup. There was a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations within Qatar over this period. Therefore, our work suggests that the State of Qatar may have been correct in abandoning the pre-travel testing of visitors. Nonetheless, a policy requiring visitors to have had a recent COVID-19 vaccination may have prevented the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations during the world cup.

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2022–2023 MfPH Next Generation Seminar Series »2022–2023 MfPH Next Generation Seminar Series
230208 Martin Grunnill
Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) »Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs)
Covid-19 »Covid-19
06 Infection Control during Mass Gathering Events »06 Infection Control during Mass Gathering Events
York University »York University
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