A California tech executive apologized for holding a conference in Culver City, after which two dozen attendees and staff at the event gave coronavirus positive results.
The chief executive officer, Peter H. Diamandis, is one of those who has been infected with coronavirus. He hosted the conference – the annual summit for a paid membership group called Abundance 360 - in the house at the end of January, with a total of about 80 attendees, panelists and other a member of the support staff.
The gathering provided guidance from Los Angeles County public health officials who have repeatedly urged people to avoid excessive travel or immerse themselves in public places. At the time of the conference, Southern California had just come down from an increase in coronavirus infections, and many hospitals were still overcrowded.
Mr. Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation, a non-profit group that awards cash prizes for technology innovation, said in a Friday blog post that he was “extremely sorry.” He added that the safety protocols for the event – including the repeated Covid-19 test for the attendees, none of them showed positive results at the time – created a sense of security. It’s all wrong, making people less wary of the masks and how far away.
“I was wrong,” Mr. Diamandis said, adding that masks, away from physics and vaccines are the best ways to fight viruses. “I hope others can learn from my mistakes.”
According to Mr. Diamandis, hundreds of people attended the virtual conference, and some asked if they could attend the reality. The X Prize office in Culver City, bordering Los Angeles, has been turned into a studio space and Mr. Diamandis’ Instagram posts from the event show he is sharing a colorful, illuminated stage with Panelists, some video calls and others meet in person.
Mr. Diamandis said that event attendees were asked to share coronavirus negative test results before they arrived, and that the workers and attendees were tested multiple times at the event, resulting in more than 450 negative results.
“I believe that the immune bubble is ‘the real thing’,” Mr. Diamandis said.
But two days after production at the studio ended, he said, one of his employees had a positive result. He sent emails to notify attendees, urging them to quarantine and check again.
On Friday, he wrote that at least 24 people had been infected. The MIT Technology Review, reporting on last week’s meeting, found that at least 32 people involved in the conference may have been infected.
Abundance 360 general membership costs $ 12,500 annually, according to the organization’s online documentation and MIT Technology Review reports that January event attendees paid up to $ 30,000 per person. . When the conference began on January 23, California had a strict order to stay home; it was lifted two days later.
On Tuesday, state and county health officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether Mr. Diamandis could be fined or disciplined.
Mr. Diamandis’ representative, who holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and has a business venture that includes a company that develops coronavirus vaccines and a competition to improve Covid-19 test technology, did not respond. The immediate request for comment was on Tuesday.
Many people consider a negative coronavirus test to be allowed to join society without taking precautions, but doctors and scientists say this is a dangerous mistake.
Some tests, especially those that give quick results, do not reliably detect low virus levels and may label the infected person as “negative”. And even the best tests cannot be seen in the future: People can become infected with coronavirus after a negative test result.
According to Mr. Diamandis, the participants did a PCR test, which is a molecular test processed by a technique called polymerase chain reaction. These tests are considered to be relatively reliable, but they are not perfect. (Antigen tests, which are aimed at detecting fragments of coronavirus protein instead of their genetic material, tend to yield results faster than molecular tests but are inferior in identifying cases. coronavirus.)
PCR tests create a false sense of security, Diamandis said. “We don’t have to wear masks 100% of the time on set,” he said. “This is definitely one of my biggest failures and one of the most important lessons learned.”
Those lessons – especially about relying too much on test results – came to Mr. Diamandis after he fell ill.
“Once it became clear that I personally had Covid-19 (which is worse as everyone says), I checked myself with fast PCR and fast antigens every day, twice daily, for several days. successive, ”he wrote in his blog post. “I was very surprised that there was NO test that was positive.”
Mr. Diamandis said four days after being quarantined, the PCR extraction test finally discovered the virus.
He also noted that a group of people at the Culver City event – 35 audiovisual experts running the live broadcast – wore a mask throughout the production and did not report any positive test results. Come on.
“There is no COVID case in this group,” wrote Diamandis. “The bottom line again: The mask works.”