The results are difficult to extrapolate, the researchers warn

It is difficult to extrapolate the reassuring results of the first experimental European concert, which took place in Barcelona in December, to reopen this cultural sector.

A team of Spanish researchers warned of the difficulty in extrapolating the “strict conditions” under which the Barcelona Test Ceremony for all cultural scenes was held, as scientists warned in a study published on Friday.

500 masked spectators

Nearly 500 masked spectators attended a concert without a distance at the concert hall in the Spanish city and no positive case was detected among the PCR tests conducted eight days later (versus two in the control group), the researchers announced in January at early time.

The article is published in the British Journal Infectious Diseases Lancet It is the published and revised version of these first findings by other independent scholars.

“Our study provides preliminary data showing that indoor musical events can occur without increasing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission when taking preventive measures, but (…) (it) does not necessarily mean that all large gatherings are safe,” warns Dr. Josep Maria Lieber, from the Trias i Pujol Hospital, Badalon.

In particular, it calls for an analysis of the conclusions according to the epidemiological situation in Spain at that time, which was characterized by a relatively low level of virus circulation.

“The parameters of the epidemic are constantly changing. Large vaccination campaigns, changes in the incidence rate in a specific location and the emergence of more transmissible variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are all elements that could have an impact.” To test different “scenarios and local context” actions.

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The researchers also assert that this concert was held under “strict conditions” (wearing the FFP2 mask, security agents responsible for avoiding crowd movements, improved ventilation), difficult to reproduce when the live music sector resumes its activities.

Exorbitant costs

In particular, they could represent a “heavy cost” for some regulators, while “testing thousands of people in a few hours (…) poses a logistical challenge,” they admit.

The same team held another test ceremony, on a larger scale, on March 27, with 5,000 spectators, and concluded that there was no sign of infection, but the participants had not been systematically tested this time after that.

Other countries conducted similar experiments to test the risks of contamination during a concert framed by strict protocol, notably in the Netherlands at the beginning of March (1,300 people) and in the United Kingdom on May 2 (5,000 people without a mask)).

The first such test will take place on Saturday in France, with 5,000 spectators pre-testing negative and a compulsory mask.

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