Germans Blame Barbenheimer for COVID Surge

Mass gatherings may have played a role in rise in case numbers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2023 5:51 AM CDT
Germans Blame Barbenheimer for COVID Surge
A patron buys a movie ticket underneath a marquee featuring the films "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" at the Los Feliz Theatre, on July 28, 2023, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Germany is experiencing a summer surge in COVID cases, and experts say something Spiegel calls the "Barbenheimer effect" is partly to blame. Epidemiologists say mass gatherings, including trips to the cinema to see blockbusters Barbie and Oppenheimer, often as a double bill, have played a role in what appears to be a steep rise in infections, the Guardian reports. According to government statistics, COVID-related visits to doctors are up 175% week-on-week and hospitalizations are up 50%. Official statistics show a very low case rate, but very few people are being tested. Monitoring stations have detected an increase in viral load in wastewater.

Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College's National School of Tropical Medicine in Texas, raised the possibility of a Barbenheimer wave last month, the Guardian notes. "Not to be a Debbie Downer…but anyone worried about a post-BarbieBoxOffice Covid bump? Or post-Oppie?" he tweeted. "We'll probably never know since no one seems to be keeping track of such things anymore." He added that people should keep up with their booster shots—and consider wearing a pink mask. Barbie and Oppenheimer have been big hits in Germany and other European countries, breaking records in some markets, Variety reports. In Germany, around 4 million people have seen Barbie and 2.5 million have seen Oppenheimer. (A new COVID variant has popped up on the CDC's radar.)

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