Would you allow yourself to be deliberately exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19? Researchers in the United Kingdom hope that people will volunteer to be infected as part of a “human challenge trial” to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
They are recruiting healthy adults up to age 30 for the study. Volunteers must not have any underlying health conditions nor any history or symptoms of COVID-19.
Human challenge trials are not common, due to the risk to the volunteers. In this case, researchers believe the risk is worth it, so a vaccine for COVID-19 can be found sooner than later.
“Deliberately infecting volunteers with a known human pathogen is never undertaken lightly, ″ Peter Openshaw, PhD, an immunologist at Imperial College London and co-investigator on the study, said in an article in STAT. “However, such studies are enormously informative about a disease, even one so well-studied as Covid-19.”
The first step is to learn how little or how much of the virus is needed to cause an infection. This stage will involve 90 paid volunteers. Once this part is complete, the next step is to test the vaccine candidates and see if they will prevent other volunteers from becoming ill after exposure to the virus.
It is hoped that the trial, which will take place in a London hospital, can begin in January 2021, with results coming in by May of that year. This may be too late to be the first successful vaccine on the market, but having multiple vaccines for one disease can only make vaccines more available across the world.
People in the U.K. who are interested in learning more about the upcoming trial can visit www.UKCovidChallenge.com to learn more.