By Esteban Medel
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Vaccinated Chileans on Thursday night attended the first of a series of concerts that will be studied in a clinical trial to see if mass events like concerts can safely resume without spreading COVID.
The trial is the result of a tie-up between Chile’s Musical Authors and Performers’ Society and the University of Chile to assess contagion risks at such events and try to get the live music industry back on its feet after the near-fatal blow dealt by the COVID pandemic and lengthy lockdowns in Chile.
A total of 200 seats will be available for each of three concerts given by local rock band Chancho En Piedra over the next three months in a carefully ventilated venue in the capital Santiago.
Attendees must show proof of vaccination, wear masks and submit to PCR tests prior to the event and again eight days after. Preliminary results will be issued in September.
Similar trials have been conducted with audiences of several thousand people attending rock concerts in Barcelona https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-spain-concert/spectacular-5000-pack-barcelona-rock-concert-after-covid-tests-idUSKBN2BJ0MN and Liverpool https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/thousands-hit-liverpool-rave-trial-reopening-lockdown-2021-04-30 and revealed a lower rate of COVID spread than in the community, though in the case of the Liverpool trial, less than half of attendees returned the post-concert COVID test.
The Chilean trial is unique in that it specifies that attendees must be vaccinated, taking advantage of the fact that Chile has one of the highest vaccination rates https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta in the world, with 70% of its population already fully inoculated.
Dr. Alejandro Afani, who is leading the trial at the University of Chile’s Clinical Hospital, said a lull in COVID cases in Chile https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/chile and the high vaccination rate made it an apt moment to try restarting mass events.
Eduardo Ibeas, vocalist with the band, said he hoped the participants would take other self-protection measures seriously. “We want a positive result from this so that live shows can restart as soon as possible,” he said.
Among those queuing up to take pre-concert COVID tests on Thursday was Catalina Osorio. She said she was looking forward to letting her hair down for the first time in a long time.
“I think that for our mental health it’s really important to be able to access culture, art and music above all, to be able to go back to seeing live artists, jump, shout, sing, that experience that fills your body,” she said. “I’m really proud to be a part of this.”
(Reporting by Esteban Medel; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)