Turns out Anime NYC wasn’t the super spreader event we thought it was

by Keane Eacobellis

A pair of new studies from the CDC shed light on Anime NYC’s Covid scare, which saw the state of New York’s first positive cases of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 last December. Weeks later, city and state cases would spike to all-time highs amid a surge of Omicron cases that is still tapering off. 

The 53,000 person, three-day event hosted by LeftField Media with the support of Crunchyroll in November became the center of controversy following news that attendees had tested positive for Omicron upon returning home. The news sparked cautious criticism of the convention and other planned cons like it in the following months, some of which have come and passed since.

Patient Zero was later identified as Peter McGinn, a Minneapolis man who visited the con with friends. Following confirmation of the variant outbreak, New York City officials encouraged con-goers to get tested while test and trace efforts went into place. 

Anime NYC’s precautions, which included proof of vaccination (though only one dose was required), mask requirements for all attendees, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, seem to have done their job. A study published yesterday by the CDC that sought to understand the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at the large, indoor event found no evidence of widespread transmission. Instead, the study attributes the result to the multiple preventative interventions in place.

Another CDC study published yesterday reinforces these takeaways.

The low overall transmission at the convention is likely because of short interactions among participants in less confined space combined with high vaccination coverage, high prevalence of mask use, and high-efficiency particulate air filtration

The study which looked at infections following the event found that outside of one cluster of Omicron cases (likely centered around McGinn), a majority of positive cases were of the at-the-time dominant delta variant. The study also looked to spread to family members who did not attend, finding that while Omicron infected vaccinated individuals, it affected the severity of illness and transmissibility.

Anime NYC did not comment on the CDC’s findings. The con is scheduled to be held at the Javits Center again this year from Nov. 18 to 20, following a promised overhaul to improve attendees’ experiences.