Music groups praise 'positive progress' of Covid-19 vaccine

Music groups praise 'positive progress' of Covid-19 vaccine

Music organisations have reacted with "cautious optimism" to the announcement of the world's first effective Covid-19 vaccine. 

Preliminary results reported by developers Pfizer and BioNTech earlier this week showed their vaccine can prevent more than 90% from getting coronavirus, with the companies planning to apply for emergency approval by the end of this month. 

The development offered a significant boost to the embattled live sector, which has been at a standstill since the spring touring shutdown, and its chances of resuming full-capacity shows in 2021. Live Nation's share price soared from $56.01 to $72.29 in the wake of the announcement, before settling back at $62.98 as of yesterday (November 11).

This latest development should bring some hope to promoters, artists and fans alike

Paul Reed, AIF

Paul Reed, CEO of the UK's Association Of Independent Festivals, said the news offered encouragement for next summer's season.

"News of positive progress in the production of an effective vaccine for Covid-19 is cause for cautious optimism among independent festival organisers," he said. "This, alongside other areas to monitor such as the development of treatments, rapid testing regimes and scientific studies including Germany's Restart-19 are all important steps towards making festivals viable again next year. 

"There is still some way to go, of course, but this latest development should bring some hope to promoters, artists and fans alike. AIF will continue to work closely with the DCMS, Public Health England and wider industry in developing propositions for how festivals could operate in 2021."  

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has announced a new inquiry on the future of UK music festivals.

Music Managers Forum CEO Annabella Coldrick said: "The announcement from Pfizer is undoubtedly positive, although clearly there will be immense logistical challenges ahead of any vaccine roll-out. It also doesn't alleviate uncertainties still facing the music business. 

"Having lost almost an entire year of live shows and festivals, we cannot allow 2021 to go the same way as 2020 - which will mean more solid and practical support from government for music's army of freelancers and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], as well as government-backed Covid insurance to provide promoters with the security they need to invest in new events."

In a lengthy Twitter post, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin tweeted: "These are interim results, based on 94 confirmed Covid-19 cases out of 43,538 participants. We need to wait until the trial reaches 164 confirmed cases before we have more reliable confirmation. But nonetheless, it’s hugely promising and better than most people expected.

"These results indicate 90% efficacy among people who *took the vaccine*. For an immunisation programme to be fully effective, it will need mass take-up. Never has tackling anti-vax propaganda been more important, and it’s a more difficult challenge than people appreciate. It will also take time to determine the longer-term efficacy and safety – Pfizer has today said it will be evaluating efficacy based on cases accruing 14 days after the second dose as well (subject to FDA approval). How long any protection lasts is a crucial question.

"This virus affects people differently, and it is yet to be seen exactly how effective the vaccine is at preventing severe cases, which are more likely to lead to hospitalisation and death. Will be interesting to see the age/risk profile of the 94 cases, and how they split." 

He concluded: "Rolling out the vaccine will require the biggest logistical effort since WW2 (esp. given the cold chain and need for multiple doses) – government has been doing lots of groundwork to get things ready for a working vaccine, but it will still take many months to roll out fully.

"These caveats aside (and the data still needs to be peer-reviewed), this is hugely promising news – and all the more impressive given this is a vaccine for a novel virus that did not exist 12 months ago."

Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino said last week that the company was "encouraged by progress on testing technology, treatments and vaccines".

"We still expect shows at scale next summer, but recognise that the exact timeline of this return will vary by region, and so we continue to focus on remaining flexible," he added.

PHOTO: James Bridle

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