How Likely am I to Catch Covid in the Club?

We asked a Virologist for their opinions on pandemic partying
September 24, 2021
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full occupied dance floor high risk for covid
Cramped dancefloors and poorly ventilated rooms make clubs a high-risk spot for Covid-19 infection | © Kajetan Sumila / Unsplash

Look out world, I’m double vaxxed. According to new law changes in dozens of countries across the globe, this means that I can go clubbing again at last. 

Like most people, I’ve missed the pounding bass and sweaty dancefloor of my local nightclub. But also like most people, I’m not looking to get a hefty dose of Corona to accompany my welcome-back hangover.

And I’m not the only one feeling torn about the risks posed by nightclubs. 

“I feel like the [UK] government is trying to revive the industry by putting young people at risk, figuring we will ‘probably be okay’ or ‘won’t have it severely’” – one student told The Tab in a recent interview

“It’s the thought of having to isolate and not being able to see my friends or work that puts me off clubbing” – worried another recent grad in a statement to Soundclub, “a club night is not worth the potential isolation… I’d rather wait until cases aren’t so high to go to them’. 

To club or not to club?

There’s simply no clear cut answer to the question on all of our minds.

So we turned to the Science to make them up for us (because that seems like the obvious thing to do, doesn’t it?). If we can’t decide whether or not to go clubbing, a PhD Virology student from the University of Cambridge ought to do the trick. 

“Clubs will be a Mecca for infection”

We know that’s not what you were hoping to hear, but it’s kind of undeniable (according to PhD virologist, Sam Turner). 

When asked whether it’s correct that the risk of catching Covid in the club is not much greater than catching it in the supermarket, our Cambridge scientist replied: ‘unfortunately this is not true’.

supermarkets with full capicity after covid
Supermarkets seem to be a safer venue | © Axel Alvarez / Shutterstock

Cramming a load of people into a small, poorly-ventilated space is going to cause infections to rise, especially if they’re breathing on each other for hours on end or worse still, swapping spit for the evening. It’s hardly rocket science.  

Here’s the crux of the matter: vaccines don’t stop Covid completely, especially with the rise of new variants. Data from the Israeli government shows that the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy against symptomatic Covid infection fell from 94% to 64% with the spread of the Delta variant. For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the drop was from 73% to 60%.

“Even with this delta variant, there are generally not such severe outcomes – so the hope is that even if infections go up, deaths won’t so much”

Don’t get disheartened, our chat with Sam wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Vaccines might not be foolproof Covid busters but they do reduce the severity of the virus’s effects.

If you go to the club thinking that you’re a Covid-resistant superhuman all of a sudden, you might find yourself brought back down to earth with a bang, because scientifically-speaking, vaccination doesn’t work like that.

covid 19 vaccine
Covid vaccines appear to be less effective against the new Delta variant | © Cottonbro / Pexels

However, if you expect your risk of serious illness to be reduced, you probably won’t be disappointed.

As a report from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) outlines: ‘despite [their] drops in efficacy – vaccines in use in the UK (Pfizer BioNtech, AstraZeneca, and Moderna) all reduce the risk of death by more than 85%, regardless of variant’.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal risk. If you don’t mind catching Covid so long as you don’t get seriously ill, feel free to get back out there and tear up the dancefloor. 

If, like me, you’re not looking to catch Covid, period, you might want to check the Coronavirus rates in your local area and exercise a bit of caution.

That’s coming from a virologist, so it ought to have cleared things up for you.

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