A technology executive in California apologized for hosting a conference in Culver City. After that, two dozen participants and employees of the event tested positive for the coronavirus.
The managing director, Peter H. Diamandis, was one of those who was infected with the coronavirus. He hosted the conference – an annual summit for a paid membership group called Fill 360 – End of January indoors with a total of around 80 participants, panelists and support staff.
The congregation disregarded Guidance from public health officials in Los Angeles Countywho repeatedly urged people to avoid excessive travel or public mingling. Back then Southern California just came down from the conference an increase in coronavirus casesand many hospitals were still overwhelmed.
Mr. Diamandis, the Founder of the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit group that awards cash prizes for technological innovation, said in a blog entry on Friday that he was “deeply sorry”. He added that the safety protocols for the event – including repeated Covid-19 tests for attendees, none of whom showed positive results at the time – had created a false sense of security, leading people to become less vigilant about masks and distancing were.
“I was wrong,” Diamandis said, adding that masks, physical distancing and vaccines are the best ways to fight the virus. “I hope others can learn from my mistakes.”
According to Diamandis, hundreds of people attended the conference virtually, and some asked if they could attend physically. The X-Prize office in Culver City, bordering Los Angeles, has been converted into a studio, and that of Mr. Diamandis Instagram posts from the event show how he shares a colorfully lit stage with panelists, some of them Video calls and other personally.
Mr Diamandis said those who attended the event had been asked to share negative test results for the coronavirus before arriving and that workers and participants were repeatedly tested at the event, giving more than 450 negative results.
“I trusted that an immunity bubble was a ‘real thing’,” said Diamandis.
But two days after the studio production ended, an employee tested positive. He sent emails informing attendees, asking them to isolate and retest.
On Friday he wrote that at least 24 people were infected. MIT Technology Review, which covered the meeting last weekfound that at least 32 people connected to the conference may have been infected.
Abundance 360 general membership costs $ 12,500 per year. according to the organization’s online materialsand MIT Technology Review reported that attendees at the January event paid more than $ 30,000 each. When the conference started on January 23, California had one strict order of stay at home in place; it was canceled two days later.
On Tuesday, state and county health officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether Mr Diamandis could be fined or otherwise disciplined.
Representing Mr. Diamandis, who has a degree in medicine from Harvard Medical School and is part of his business ventures a coronavirus vaccine development company and a Competition to improve Covid-19 test technology, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Some types of tests, especially those that give quick results, do not reliably detect low levels of the virus and can falsely label infected people as “negative”. And even the best tests cannot see into the future: people can become infected with the coronavirus after a negative test result.
According to Diamandis, participants took part in PCR tests, which are molecular tests carried out using a technique called a polymerase chain reaction. These tests are considered to be relatively reliable, but they are not perfect. (Antigen tests, which are used to detect pieces of coronavirus protein rather than their genetic material, tend to give faster results than molecular tests, but they are more difficult to identify coronavirus cases.)
According to Diamandis, the PCR tests created a false sense of security. “We didn’t make it compulsory to wear masks 100 percent of the time in the studio,” he said. “This is definitely one of my biggest mistakes and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned.”
Those lessons – mainly because of having to rely too heavily on test results – hit Mr. Diamandis after he became ill himself.
“When it was clear that I had personally got Covid-19 (which sucks as everyone says), I tested myself with fast PCR and fast antigen twice a day for several consecutive days,” he wrote his blog post. “I was amazed that NONE of the tests were positive.”
Four days after his quarantine, a PCR spit test finally discovered the virus, Diamandis said.
He also noted that a group of people at the Culver City event – the 35 audiovisual experts who ran the live broadcast – wore masks throughout the production process and did not report positive test results.
“There were no COVID cases in this group,” wrote Diamandis. “Conclusion again: masks work.”