“Safer than a flight to Mallorca”: Preparations underway for the RESTART 19 experiment
The corona experiment RESTART-19, organized by University Medicine Halle (Saale), has garnered a lot of interest from the public, the cultural and sports industry, as well as the national and international media. On August 22, 4,000 people will participate in the study to determine under which conditions major cultural and sporting events could be held again.
In preparation for August 22, representatives from University Medicine Halle (Saale), ZSL, which manages the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, the handball Bundesliga club SC DHfK Leipzig and other partners met on July 30 for a technical run-through in the Leipzig Arena.
“The aim was to discuss procedures, identify possible obstacles of a logistical and organizational nature ahead of time and, of course, to define the technical prerequisites and requirements for such an experiment,” explains Dr. Stefan Moritz, head of the Restart 19 study. Temperature taking, contact simulation, viewing parts of the arena: A highly sensitive technical system was installed in the arena to measure and record the distances between the handball players of the Bundesliga club DHfK Leipzig, who stood in for study participants during the run-through. The group of scientists, led by Stefan Moritz, generated test data. On August 22, each study participant will receive a contact tracer which will measure each individual contact. It will record data on the movement of each person approximately every three seconds.
By August 4, 11 o’clock, 1,528 people had signed up to participate. As stated above, the target figure is 4,000 participants. “This would give the experiment a participant size that is more in keeping with large concerts. In purely mathematical terms, however, it is also possible to carry out the experiment with fewer participants. So, it will take place no matter what,” explains Moritz.
People between the ages of 18 and 50 are eligible to participate. “We are aware that our age range specification has caused some misunderstanding and confusion. We would therefore like to emphasize that we are under very strict guidelines by our ethics committee and the authorities in the interest of protecting all participants. We take this very seriously. Even though we assume that our precautions will prevent anyone from becoming infected, we have to take into account that the risk of contracting COVID-19 increases considerably in people over the age of 50 and we therefore set this age limit for ethical reasons,” says Moritz, in a request for understanding. “We are aware that people over 50 do not feel old, and in many cases they are in excellent shape, however we need to maintain scientific standards.”
The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Halle, Professor Michael Gekle, adds: “We would like to reiterate that we have developed a comprehensive hygiene concept. This includes mandatory corona testing 48 hours prior to the experiment, as well as an FFP-2 mask and a bottle of disinfectant for each participant. To put it bluntly, our experiment is safer than flying to Mallorca.”
The project “RESTART-19” of University Medicine Halle (Saale) is being funded by the Ministry of Economics, Science and Digitization of Saxony-Anhalt as well as the State Ministry of Science, Culture and Tourism and the State Ministry for Social Affairs and Social Cohesion of the Free State of Saxony. Cooperation partners of the project include the handball club SC DHfK Leipzig and ZSL Betreibergesellschaft mbH.