The Anime NYC convention, which took place last November and was linked to the second confirmed case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, was linked to a cluster of 22 cases of the variant, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigation found.
In early December, the first cases of the micromicron variant were detected in the US, weeks after the highly infectious, vaccine-resistant strain was first discovered by South African public health officials.
A Minneapolis man, initially unnamed but later identified to the media as 30-year-old Peter McGinn, tested positive for the virus after attending a convention of 53,000 people in Lower Manhattan last year. After genetic sequencing, it was found that he was infected with the Omicron variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated the case and found a cluster of 16 infections among close contacts of the man. There were also six household contacts of those 16 who were also found to be infected.
The researchers found no significant transmission of Covid outside of this Anime NYC-related cluster.
The CDC found that at least 22 cases of Covid, including six people who did not attend the event, were linked to an anime convention in New York. All those infected were fully vaccinated, but none had a severe case.
Last November, Anime NYC drew 53,000 people to Manhattan. Participants must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination in order to participate.
McGinn arrived in New York on November 18 and settled with three others during the five-day trip. He was fully vaccinated and re-vaccinated two weeks before the trip.
He told the CDC that he took part in the exposed visits to restaurants, bars and clubs, along with a group of 29 patrons who interacted with each other during the trip.
Upon his return to Minneapolis on November 22, he developed symptoms. On the same day, another member of the social group informed him that they had tested positive for Covid.
Peter McGinn, 30, spoke of how surprised he was when he became one of the first people in the country to contract the Omicron variant despite being fully vaccinated and getting a booster.
A day later, he did a PCR test, which turned out to be positive. Other members of the group were informed that they had been exposed to the virus and at least 23 people were tested and then cooperated with the CDC investigation.
“When I first heard about it, I thought it was a supervillain,” McGinn told the Star Tribune last year.
“It seems to me that this is the name of the villain, and therefore I think it fits with this, since it is a virus.”
Each of the 23 contacts was fully vaccinated, and 12 also received a Covid booster.
To attend the event, Anime NYC required people to show proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccination.
Of this group, 16 people tested positive for Covid, including six people who were boosted and ten who were not. Of the seven people who tested negative, five were boosted.
Investigators then went even further to find out if members of the social group infected their household contacts.
Since people came to the convention from all over America, and this particular group consisted of people from all over the country, there was a serious risk that this single event could trigger a nationwide outbreak.
Members of the social group included residents of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia discovered by the CDC.
In total, during this period, there were 18 close contacts who were tested for Covid, and six of them tested positive. Only one person in the group was not vaccinated and they tested negative.
Investigators determined that no hospitalizations or deaths from Covid were associated with this cluster of cases.
“A lot of them were like, ‘You see, vaccines don’t work. But in my opinion, they absolutely work because they reduce the number of people in the hospital,” McGinn told the Tribune.
“You can still get COVID, but it reduces symptoms in my experience.”
They also found some transmission of Omicron and the Delta variant, which was still dominant at the time, but nothing major for that single cluster.
“The data from this study support the importance of COVID-19 booster doses and early notification, in combination with other multicomponent preventive measures, to limit transmission and prevent severe disease from Omicron and other SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the CDC researchers wrote.