Covid concerts

Paris gets green light for Covid 'clinical trial' concert, Marseille cancelled

The AccorHotels Arena in Paris where the experimental concert will take place on Saturday 29 May, 2021.
The AccorHotels Arena in Paris where the experimental concert will take place on Saturday 29 May, 2021. © AFP/Archives

A first experimental concert to assess health risks associated with resuming large-scale public gatherings is to take place in Paris on 29 May, with veteran French rock band Indochine performing to a 5,000-strong standing crowd. A similar event planned in Marseille with the rap band IAM has been cancelled.

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More than a simple experimental concert, the event is presented as a clinical trial by organisers Assistance publique-hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) and music industry union Prodiss.

It aims to ensure that, through respecting certain conditions, such events can be held without encourage Covid-19 transmission.

The experiment called "Ambition Live Again", will take place in several phases. Results are expected late June.

The Ambitionliveagain.org website, will allow volunteers to register and check whether they meet the criteria decided by the scientific study teams.

In the Paris venue, participants will wear surgical masks and will stand in the pit, or in front of the stage, without the physical distance of one or two metres.

The trial will include 7,500 volunteers under 45 years of age with no risk factors for Covid. All of them must have tested negative before the concert.

This clinical trial will be the first in Europe to compare the risk of infection between two groups of people, randomly assigned, according to the AP-HP press release.

The hypothesis is that systematic screening for Covid-19 up to three days before the event will control the risk of transmission at the concert.

"There will be 5,000 people attending the concert and 2,500 who will not," explains Professor Jean-Marc Treluyer, a researcher at the AP-HP.

"So we're going to compare the number of people who are contaminated in the concert group versus the non-concert group. The objective is to show that there is no difference between the two groups."

The two groups are essential to compare the results and to verify that there is no increase in the risk of infection seven days after the concert in concert attendees compared to non-attendees.

All participants will be tested seven days after the event. If there are positive cases in the spectator group, an epidemiological investigation will be carried out to determine whether or not the contamination could have occurred during the concert.

No Marseille

While the test concert in Paris, and another in Montpellier, have been approved by the culture ministry, the project in Marseille was not, due to risks linked to the proposed health protocols, Roselyne Bachelot said on Wednesday.

"We had no idea they were going to say no," said IAM rap band leader Akhenaton in an interview with France Info on Thursday, who said he was "disillusioned" and "disappointed", especially for the "scientists and associations who had been working for many months" on this project.

"We can see that in this whole crisis politicians have more weight than scientists."

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