I spent last week at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Copenhagen. ECCMID is the main international conference on infection. American meetings that were once pre-eminent have fragmented, becoming parochial; Asian rivals have failed to gain traction. Copenhagen was ECCMID’s comeback: 2020 was cancelled; 2021 was online and 2022 was a ghost. This time was ahead of 2019: 15,000 attendees; lecture halls overflowing and the biggest trade show I’ve seen in 40 years of international meetings.
I went with curiosity. Denmark ended all Covid restrictions a year ago, but the conference blurb promised anti-Covid measures. Delegates – mostly laboratory scientists and infection specialists – would be “offered” N95 masks. As luck would have it, I went with an incipient RTI (respiratory tract infection, i.e., a cold). This progressed inexorably into a hacking cough and a blocked nose.
Much was encouraging. Only 1 or 2% of my fellow infection specialists wore masks, and I saw only one in a contraption combining goggles, shield and mask. No one appeared perturbed by my symptoms, nor suggested I leave, wear a mask or do a test. A noted physician amiably diagnosed, “It’ll be Covid”, but sat beside me nonetheless. It was quite like the old days. Of course, it’s possible that only the blasé attended in person whilst the fearful attended online. It’s also possible that some folks avoided me so effectively that I was unaware of being shunned. But, even if both caveats are true, it’s beyond dispute that most professionals are now relaxed about Covid.
Read more: At the World’s Premier Infection Conference, Where Was the Debate About Vaccines, Masks and Lockdowns?