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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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COVID-19

‘Serious malfunctions’ at French research unit headed by Didier Raoult

A criminal investigation is set to begin into the Marseille research unit headed by controversial scientist Didier Raoult, after a report found "serious malfunctions".

'Serious malfunctions' at French research unit headed by Didier Raoult

The findings of the joint investigation into the IHU at Marseille by the Inspection générale des affaires sociales (IGAS) and the  l’Inspection générale de l’éducation, du sport et de la recherche (IGESR) prompted Health Minister François Braun and Research Minister Sylvie Retailleau to refer the unit to the city’s public prosecutor, urging it to investigate “serious malfunctions” at the institution.

Raoult was head of the unit from its foundation in 2011 until his retirement this summer.

The controversial microbiologist gained significant worldwide attention during the Covid-19 pandemic for his vociferous promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, despite a lack of evidence on its effectiveness.

READ ALSO Five minutes to understand: Whatever happened to French professor Didier Raoult?

He was succeeded as director by Pierre-Edouard Fournier.

The ministers said that a number of issues highlighted in the latest report are “likely to constitute offences or serious breaches of health or research regulations”.

Fournier, and the institute’s seven founding members – including the University of Aix-Marseille, Assistance Publique-Hospitals de Marseille, the Research Institute for Development or the army health service – will now be summoned by their supervisory bodies to “implement a proactive action plan as soon as possible” which “will condition the continuation of the activity of the IHU-MI and its funding by the State”, according to the joint communiqué of the ministers.

The IHU was already under judicial investigation for “forgery in writing”, “use of forgery in writing”, and “interventional research involving a human person not justified by his usual care without obtaining the opinion of the committee for the protection of persons and the authorisation of the Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM),” the Marseille prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

In an earlier report, the ANSM had noted “serious breaches of the regulations for research involving humans”, during some clinical trials.

READ ALSO Maverick French Covid doctor reprimanded over ‘breaches’ in clinical trials

François Crémieux, the director of Marseille public hospitals, told local newspaper La Provence on Tuesday that the establishment “shares the observation of managerial excesses of certain hospital-university managers occupying key functions within the infectious diseases division”.

“The legitimacy of the IHU has been affected. It has lost its scientific credibility. It must now be regained. 800 highly skilled professionals work there every day,” he added.

Raoult bit back at the report in a tweet, saying: “I regret that the IGAS/IGAENR mission does not take into account the detailed legal and scientific response that I have provided”.

Separately, Raoult will be in court on Friday as his defamation case against Karine Lacombe, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sorbonne University Faculty of Medicine, comes before judges.

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