French rock group Indochine plays Covid trial gig in Paris

Starved of live music for the past year, fans of veteran French rock band Indochine got the chance to see their idols in concert on Saturday, all in the name of Covid-19 research.

French rock group Indochine plays Covid trial gig in Paris
People raise their hands before the start of a test concert of French rock band Indochine at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on May 29th, 2021. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

Around 5,000 concert-goers were taking part in the experimental event at Paris’s Bercy concert hall. A further 2,500 volunteers who did not attend the concert would be used as a comparison group.

The trial to assess the risk of Covid transmission at events has been eagerly awaited by the live music and entertainment sector which has been devastated by Covid-19.

“It’s been so long that we have waited for a reopening of this kind of event. So finding a concert, in addition to it being Indochine, is really great,” Camille, 26, from the Paris region, said.

Before being admitted, the concert-goers, all aged between 18 and 45 with no special risk factors, handed over an envelope containing a saliva test done earlier on Saturday.

Each person was also required to have had a negative antigen test in the last three days.

Once inside, no social distancing was required but masks were compulsory.

READ ALSO: Eight French-language musicians you need to hear

Due to the 9pm curfew still in place in France, the concert started earlier than normal with Indochine on stage by 6 pm.

Similar trials have already taken place elsewhere in Europe and the Bercy concert had been postponed a number of times.

It was finally being held two days ahead of the opening up of France’s vaccination programme to all adults.

Results from the concert-goers’ study are expected by late June.

The study was organised by the AP-HP (Assistance publique-Hopitaux de Paris), the Paris-based university hospital trust, and Prodiss, the national union for musical and variety shows, with support from the government.

Previous experimental events in Spain and Britain have not shown any increased risk of transmission.

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France’s Covid-19 app to be ‘put to sleep’

France's Covid-tracker app, used for months for the all-important 'health pass' will be switched off today, health officials have confirmed.

France’s Covid-19 app to be 'put to sleep'

Covid-19 screening in France reaches an important milestone on Friday, June 30th, 2023 – when the TousAntiCovid app is officially ‘put to sleep’.

The app, which was launched in June 2020 as France came out of its first lockdown of the pandemic and has undergone a number of iterations, including as a delivery device for the health pass, will be switched off. 

For most people, this anniversary will pass without mention. Few people have consulted the app in recent months, and it has sat dormant on many smartphones since France’s Covid-19 health pass requirement was suspended in March 2022.

Meanwhile, the Système d’Informations de DEPistage (SI-DEP) interface – which has been informing people about their test results since the Spring of 2020 – is also being shut down on June 30th, as per legal requirements.

The SI-DEP shutdown means that it will also be impossible to retrieve Covid test certificates issued before June 30th, should the need arise. All data held by the database will be “destroyed”, officials have said.

It has handled more than 320 million antigen and PCR tests since it was introduced.

This does not mean that testing for Covid-19 has stopped, or is now unnecessary. As reported recently, more than 1,000 deaths a week in Europe are still caused by the virus.

The shutdown of the national information system does not mean that people in France cannot still book an appointment for an antigen test at a pharmacy, or a PCR test at a laboratory. But the number of people going for testing is declining rapidly. In recent days, according to Le Parisien, just 15,000 people in France took a Covid test – the lowest number, it said, since the pandemic started.

Reimbursement rules for testing changed on March 1st, with only certain categories of people – minors, those aged 65 and over, or immunosuppressed patients – covered for the entire cost of testing.

From Friday, only PCR test results will be transmitted to authorities for data purposes, meaning pharmacists that only offer antigen testing will be locked out of the online interface to record test results.

The reason for the shift in priorities is to maintain “minimal epidemiological surveillance”, the Ministry of Health has reportedly told scientists.

As a result test certificates, showing a positive or negative result, will no longer be issued from July 1st. Since February 1st, anyone taking a test has had to give consent to share their data in order to obtain a certificate.