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All Eyes on Davos and Its Covid Mitigation Practices

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During the World Economic Forum in Davos, attendees were required to get tested for Covid onsite. A negative test granted access, while a positive test led to the attendee’s badge being deactivated.

Heads of state, top CEOs, academia, and environmentalists are among the world’s decision-makers gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place January 16-20. It’s the first in-person winter annual meeting since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Agenda items included the state of the pandemic, putting health at the heart of climate action, building health systems through disruption, and better health with data.

The health and safety of attendees was also a focus. All participants were encouraged to take a Covid test before traveling to Davos. On arrival, they were required to test again at one of the onsite testing centers, before picking up their badge.

A negative test granted access to the annual meeting’s venues. Failing to conduct an online test or a positive test result led to their badge being deactivated and access to the event denied.

The WEF published its Guidance for Health Measures document, listing all the protocols in place and guiding participants through the arrival and testing process in advance. Free masks and rapid tests were available throughout the venue. New state-of-the-art ventilation system and HEPA purifiers were installed ahead of the event.

These protocols led to a Twitter thread called #DavosStandard that trended in multiple languages. Some tweets were derogatory, inferring these precautions were in place only because of the VIP nature of the attendees. Experts however, pointed out these measures are available to all and should be in place for any type of gathering.

At Convening Leaders, the annual convention of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), SafeExpo was set up right outside The District, as the trade show floor at this gathering is called, with free masks, Covid tests, and information.

“Everything that is being done at Davos, is readily available. People have to demand it,” said Patty Olinger, Executive Director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC).

Regarding the air purification system, Olinger has been saying for quite some time that this is the new frontier in protecting against infectious diseases. “In the midst of the pandemic, the focus was on surface transmission of infectious disease, bacteria, and more. New technologies are emerging in the cleaning industry, specifically with air purification and monitoring systems, and they are available and not even that expensive,” she said.

In addition, she isn’t surprised by the protocols that are in place in Davos. “They are setting an example for the rest of the world. It is not just hygiene theater. They are doing their best to keep their attendees healthy and are in a no-win situation. People would have complained either way if they did or did not take these steps.”

Photo credit: Waldemar Brandt / Unsplash