German anti-lockdown protests led to more coronavirus cases, study finds

Researchers conclude as many as 21,000 infections could have been prevented had two protests been canceled

By Merlin Sugue
February 9, 2021

Protests against the German government’s coronavirus restrictions led to an increase in infections toward the end of the year, a study published on Tuesday has found.

Since the summer, Germany has seen several major demonstrations against coronavirus measures, with participants often not respecting social-distancing and mask-wearing rules.

The study, by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Humboldt University of Berlin, looked at two rallies organized by the so-called Querdenken group in November 2020 — in Berlin, which attracted more than 10,000 people, and in Leipzig, which was attended by some 20,000 people.

It concluded that had these two protests been canceled, between 16,000 and 21,000 coronavirus cases could have been prevented by Christmas.

Among other factors, the researchers looked at districts where a bus network that specialized in getting protesters to Querdenken rallies operated. They found that in these districts, the seven-day infection rate rose significantly following the two demonstrations.

The study showed how the behavior of a few thousand could have a major impact on public health, according to the researchers.

“A mobile minority that does not comply with current hygiene rules can pose a significant risk to others,” said Martin Langer, a co-author of the study.

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