First human challenge study

The UK will be the first country in the world to run a Covid-19 human challenge study, following approval from the UK’s clinical trials ethics body.

  • The study will begin within a month, after receiving ethics approval in the same week the UK hit the target of offering the first vaccine dose to 15 million people
  • Researchers call on healthy young people to volunteer for the study, which will play a key role in developing effective Covid-19 vaccines and treatments
  • Up to 90 volunteers aged 18 – 30 years will be exposed to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled environment to increase understanding of how the virus affects people

Backed by a £33.6 million UK government investment, the first-of-its-kind study for this virus will involve establishing the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection, which will give doctors greater understanding of Covid-19 and help support the pandemic response by aiding vaccine and treatment development. The safety of volunteers is paramount, which means this virus characterisation study will initially use the version of the virus that has been circulating in the UK since March 2020 and has been shown to be of low risk in young healthy adults. Medics and scientists will closely monitor the effect of the virus on volunteers and will be on hand to look after them 24 hours a day. click full source

Human challenge studies also allow scientists to observe the progression of an infection from the very moment that the virus enters the body. They can also help scientists work out the details of how someone with a SARS-CoV-2 infection transmits virus particles into the environment. Additionally, human challenge studies might help us understand which people are most likely to develop symptoms and, just as important, which people are likely to have none.

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