Coronavirus Update: Will San Diego Comic-Con Be Cancelled?

UPDATE: Comic Con International has supplied ComicBook.com with a new statement on if the show would be cancelled due to the coronavirus. "Comic-Con is working with local officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 situation and continues to monitor developments closely. At this time both shows, WonderCon Anaheim and Comic-Con in San Diego, are moving forward as scheduled. As always, the safety and security of all our attendees is of utmost importance. Please rest assured that these concerns are being taken very seriously and we will not make any decisions regarding the rescheduling of shows without weighing all considerations carefully."

Original Story: As more cases of coronavirus infection -- COVID-19 -- continue to be identified across the globe, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the entertainment industry. Some films, such as Mission: Impossible 7, have halted production due to the Italian outbreak. Others, such as the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, have shifted their release dates in response. The outbreak has had major impact on conventions and gatherings as well with both Emerald City Comic Con and SXSW calling off their very popular annual events as the number of infected continues to rise. With the impact of coronavirus being of such concern, some have already started looking ahead to arguably the biggest popular culture event of the year and wondering if it will be cancelled as well -- San Diego Comic-Con -- and realistically, the convention probably will take place. It's just what that looks like that is the real question.

Thus far, SDCC has made no determination about the event in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Organizers told ComicBook.com that they are monitoring developments closely as well as working with local officials regarding the matter and, indeed, that is the most appropriate call at the moment. SDCC is nearly five months away at this point, but this is also a time when many are finalizing their plans for the event and whether the convention will go on as planned or see some sort of impact from the pandemic hinges largely on how the COVID-19 situation plays out. Ultimately, it may come down to science, specifically what the coronavirus' situation is once warmer weather rolls around.

Generally speaking, viruses have a "season". It is why people refer to late fall and winter as "cold and flu season" as that time of year tends to be when cold and flu viruses are most prevalent and active. It doesn't mean you can't get either illness at any time of the year -- you can -- it just tends to be more concentrated during that time of the year as conditions are right for the viruses that cause those illnesses. Coronaviruses are no different. They have a season and the current coronavirus -- SARS-CoV-2 -- is likely to as well.

"Coronaviruses have seasonality," infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security Amesh Adalja told Fortune. "We do know that certain environmental conditions favor the transmission of viruses and that cold weather, the humidity, all of that, affect trajectory. There's a good reason to believe [this virus] will have that seasonality."

While there's no guarantee that SARS-CoV-2 will have a seasonality that sees it wane in warmer months -- 2012's MERS, for example, did not follow a standard seasonality and continued to be problematic in high temperatures, not to mention that it could take years to establish SARS-CoV-2's pattern -- it is at least an educated guess that it might. That's good news for researchers as it will offer more time to better understand the virus, but it's also potentially good news for events happening this summer, including SDCC, as the general risk of infection may be lower by then allowing, as they say, for the show to go on.

Realistically, the fact that SDCC is so far off yet means that that the convention will likely continue. That doesn't mean it will be unaltered, however. There may well be some companies and vendors that choose to have a smaller presence at the event simply because of the uncertainty of what things will look like in July. There also may be a smaller number of attendees this year as people err on the side of caution when it comes to their own personal travel this year. Conversely, there could be a surge of people coming to San Diego during SDCC season as people take advantage of travel deals.

Should SDCC go forward as planned, it's also very likely that the event itself will see some additional measures to help maintain the health and safety of those at the event. Whatever those measures are, one thing is certain, organizers are committed to working with San Diego city officials to create the safest environment possible.

11comments

"Comic-Con is working with local officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 situation and continues to monitor developments closely," Comic-Con International reps said.

2020 Comic-Con International is currently slated to take place in San Diego from July 22 to July 26.

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.