UK Begins Controversial Coronavirus Challenge Trial

China has vaccinated 60k people Official

UK plan to be first to run "human challenge" Covid trials

Dr Chris Chiu, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London and lead researcher on the human challenge studies, said: "Human challenge studies can increase our understanding of COVID-19 in unique ways and accelerate development of the many potential new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines".

Meanwhile, on Tuesday it was announced that volunteers in the United Kingdom could be exposed to the new coronavirus in controlled settings in a bid to speed up vaccine development.

Supporters of the studies say the approach can produce results faster than standard research, as there is no waiting for volunteers to become exposed to the disease - which could potentially save thousands of lives.

"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 3 trials".

One of the risks of the human challenge trials as per Katharine Wright, the assistant director at the Nutfield Council on Bioethics is that they take place for testing flu vaccines without an effective cure and all "first human trials" have some unknown risks.

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The studies in partnership with Imperial College London, hVIVO and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust are initially looking to discover the smallest amount of virus it takes to cause Covid-19 infection in small groups of healthy young people, who are at lowest risk of harm.

The volunteers will be infected with the virus through the nose and monitored around the clock. And if this vaccine trial could mean that this period of trauma for the whole world will be over sooner, I want to help.

Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London, said the initial part of the trial will involve exposing people to the virus to establish the lowest possible safe dose.

Human challenge trials are expected to start in January 2021, pending approval from regulatory bodies and ethics committees.

The U.K. government ispreparing to invest $43.4 million (33.6 million pounds) in the study.

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They will be carried out under strict conditions at the Royal Free Hospital in London and will feature healthy young adults, carefully selected by researchers, who will be compensated for their involvement. "My team has been safely running human challenge studies with other respiratory viruses for over 10 years".

This type of research, known as a human challenge study, is used infrequently because some consider the risk involved in infecting otherwise healthy individuals to be unethical. Having studies that compare people's immune responses to different vaccines could be useful in prioritizing which vaccines are manufactured in greater quantities.

Mr Zheng, who is overseeing Covid-19 vaccine development, added that China is still facing pressure from imported cases. Katharine Wright, from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, cites informed consent as perhaps one of the most important aspects of these kinds of trials.

Estefania Hidalgo, 31, a potential volunteer from Bristol in southern England, said she's not anxious about taking part because the study will be conducted in a controlled environment and the participants will be closely monitored.

Those interested in participating in the challenge trials can register via a website recently launched called the UK COVID Challenge.

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