Partying without restraint?

Neuruppin/Potsdam, 12 August 2021

The Brandenburg Medical School and the Harding Center for Risk Literacy (Potsdam) have assumed the scientific supervision of the festivals “Nation of Gondwana” and “Zurück zu den Wurzeln”, in collaboration with the Brandenburg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy. A joint study serves to evaluate test strategies for safe open air events in times of the pandemic. First results are expected for this autumn.

The aim is to permit cultural events to take place again in Brandenburg despite the ongoing pandemic and even in case of rising incidence figures. The Brandenburg Ministry has therefore authorized a limited number of cultural events this summer in the format of model projects. These events include a concept of measures to contain the risk of infection and are scientifically monitored. Researchers of the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane (MHB) and the Harding Center for Risk Literacy (Potsdam) assess the festivals “Nation of Gondwana” and “Zurück zu den Wurzeln” on four weekends between 16 July and 15 August 2021.

Prof. Dr. Michael Hauptmann heads the MHB Institute of Biostatistics and Registry Research. He underlines the specific risks of virus transmission at open air events with large attendance figures: “In view of the hygiene concepts available, events with paying visitors are not practicable for economic and organizational reasons. The model project therefore aims to test concepts with stringent access restrictions in the form of consistent test strategies, so that only minor restrictions are necessary after entry.”

Dr. Felix Rebitsch, head research scientist at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, names three key elements of the project: statistical analysis of the risks involved in the events, evaluation of data provided by the organizers, and a survey of participants.

Prof. Hauptmann welcomes the high readiness among visitors to participate in the study. It appears that festival visitors have a major personal interest in supporting the research project. Ideally, almost 50% of visitors in each case will answer questions such as: whether they agreed with the measures taken, how they behaved individually, whether they had moments when they felt insecure and worried, and finally whether infections and secondary infections occurred in their household.

Prof. Hauptmann: “Our team statistically analyses the incidence-related risk involved in various kinds of access restriction and tries to determine a ratio of risk, access restriction and hygiene measures which visitors are willing to accept. A combination of survey results and objective data will then permit to draw reliable conclusions on the security of events. What we hope to find out is how cultural events can take place in a safe and accepted manner even under persistent pandemic conditions.”

The Harding Center and the MHB are both part of the Brandenburg Faculty of Health Sciences. First results of the joint project are expected for this autumn.

Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane
The Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane, one of the member universities of the Brandenburg Faculty of Health Sciences, is a state-accredited university under the sponsorship of municipal authorities and independent nonprofit organizations. With four university clinics (Immanuel Klinikum Bernau Herzzentrum Brandenburg, Immanuel Klinik Rüdersdorf, Ruppiner Kliniken and Städtisches Klinikum Brandenburg) and currently a total of more than 35 cooperating hospitals and over 150 teaching practices, the MHB stands for practice-oriented and science-based teaching concepts and the integration of research, student instruction and patient care in the State of Brandenburg and beyond.

Harding Center for Risk Literacy
The Harding Center for Risk Literacy changed its affiliation from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin) to the Brandenburg Faculty of Health Sciences in Potsdam in 2020. It stands for information, generally intelligible processing of data and facts and the development of analogous and digital tools to facilitate informed and efficient health and consumer-related decision-making. The team at the Center conducts studies, expert surveys and public opinion polls. They also organize further and advanced training for physicians, journalists and consumer advisors who have a special responsibility to correctly interpret risks and convey their expert knowledge to patients and the general public in a comprehensible manner.

Brandenburg Faculty of Health Sciences
The Brandenburg Faculty of Health Sciences is a joint institution of the University of Potsdam, the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg and was established in 2018. It constitutes the core of the Brandenburg Health Campus. The new faculty aims to develop new formats of medical and nursing care provision and to establish innovative study programmes. Collaboration with other universities and research institutions is expected to improve medical care in the State of Brandenburg.

Dr. Felix G. Rebitschek, Head Research Scientist and CEO, Harding Center for Risk Literacy