British researchers to infect volunteers with Covid-19 to study exposure

China has vaccinated 60k people Official

Researchers in Britain are preparing to start a controversial COVID-19 "human challenge" study in which dozens of healthy volunteers will be exposed to live coronavirus in an effort to speed up vaccine development.

"No study is completely risk-free, but [we] will be working hard to ensure we make the risks as low as we possibly can", he said.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said: "First, for the many vaccines still in the mid-stages of development, human challenge studies may help pick out the most promising ones to take forward into larger phase three trials".

"...perhaps the main limitation is that the challenge studies can ethically only select healthy adult volunteers - not children or the elderly, or those vulnerable groups with diabetes, hypertension, chronic heart, lung, kidney disease, or pregnant women or immunocompromised people - so the interpretation of such studies will, ironically, be only applicable to those who least need the protection", notes Tang.

United Kingdom researchers say they are preparing to begin a controversial experiment that will infect healthy volunteers with the new coronavirus to study.

Human challenge studies have been previously used to develop vaccines for diseases including typhoid, cholera and malaria.

The first stage of the human challenge project will be delivered by a partnership between Imperial College London, the Royal Free Hospital's specialist and secure research unit in London and a company called hVIVO.

Governments around the world are funding efforts to develop vaccines in hopes of ending the coronavirus pandemic that has pummelled the worldwide economy, shutting businesses and putting millions of people out of work. Forty-six potential vaccines are already in human testing, with 11 of them in late-stage trials - several are expected to report results later this year or in early 2021.

The government has said it will initially invest £33.6m in the studies, although the research will need to be approved by regulators and the ethics committee before they can go ahead. "No other country has injected people with unproven vaccines outside the drug trial process to such a huge scale". "We're going to need a whole raft of interventions in order to control this pandemic".


Researchers would then study how vaccines work in the body to stop COVID-19.

These trials involve testing a vaccine by deliberately exposing volunteers to a virus.

The researchers would use the results to study how vaccines might work and to explore potential treatments. Tens of thousands of volunteers around the world have already signed up to participate in more traditional vaccine trials.

In this initial phase, the aim will be to discover the smallest amount of virus it takes to cause a person to develop COVID-19.

Mr Zheng, who is overseeing Covid-19 vaccine development, added that China is still facing pressure from imported cases.

Challenge studies have been used to study vaccines and medicines against influenza and a range of other viral pathogens. Between 50 and 90 healthy young adults will be given a lab-grown strain of the live virus while quarantined. "These could nearly take the place of phase 3 trials or at least go alongside them", says Richards.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "We are doing everything we can to fight coronavirus, including backing our best and brightest scientists and researchers in their hunt for a safe and effective vaccine". It will also provide those answers faster than waiting for people to be exposed naturally infected with the disease.

"So many people (are) struggling right now, and I want this pandemic to be over", Marcos told The Associated Press.

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