low risk of COVID-19 transmission during outdoor events


By Tom Walker May 11, 2021

Computer models have shown that 0.015% of runners have potentially contracted an infection with COVID-19 / Shutterstock / Paul Hanley

A report commissioned by Parkrun estimated that the authorization of mass-participation outdoor events carries an “exceptionally low risk” of transmission of COVID-19.

The study, led by Professor Clive Beggs of Queen Mary University in London, used data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from March 2021, examining the prevalence of the virus, as well as the levels of antibodies in the population.

The study found that, on average, if Parkruns had been opened in March of this year (2020), there would have been no infectious person present at 30% of events.

It is important to note that in events in which an infectious person participated, there would have been an average R-value of only 0.057.

For the study (downloadable and consultable by clicking here), a computer model performed 10,000 simulations of an average parkrun event of 263 people, using reasonable worst-case estimates for the number and duration of human contact, resulting in only 0.015% of runners get a COVID-19 infection.

The study also suggests that the risk of infection is even lower at the onset of events like Parkrun than during the event itself.

This seems mainly due to the significantly lower respiration rate (lung ventilation rate) of the participants before the event compared to the race, as well as the relatively short period of time that the participants are together.

Study author Professor Clive Beggs said, “Our analysis was undertaken using COVID-19 prevalence levels for March 2021, and the results revealed that Parkrun events are likely to be very sure.

“This finding appears to be supported by the evidence from the various road races that took place around the world during the pandemic, which were characterized by a notable lack of infectious epidemics.

“Based on this, it seems to me that racing events are probably already safe in the UK, and are getting safer every day as the prevalence of COVID-19 declines and the vaccine rollout continues. “

Parkrun events are scheduled to resume on June 5.

To read the full research paper, Click here.


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