Omicron leads to fresh wave of scientific meeting cancellations

Source: Science Magazine

In a near rerun of early 2020, when dozens of meetings were canceled on short notice because of the pandemic, a handful of scientific societies are once again canceling their in-person meetings as the ultracontagious Omicron variant sweeps across the globe. Although many societies were better prepared for the latest wave because they planned hybrid meetings that could shed their in-person components, meetings for astronomers and mathematicians were caught off-guard and forced to cancel altogether. Some societies—including a meeting of biologists this week—are doggedly plowing ahead with in-person components, taking extra safety precautions.

One big cancellation came today from the AAAS, the largest general science society in the world and the publisher of Science. It said it would cancel the in-person component of its annual meeting, set to take place next month in Philadelphia. The online segment of the hybrid meeting will proceed as planned.

AAAS CEO Sudip Parikh says the driving force behind the decision was “protecting the health and wellbeing of our staff, members, and attendees.” But the association’s board and staff also had to consider that the meeting could contribute to the virus’ spread. “It has public health consequences. As a scientific organization, it would be hard to justify,” he says.