Up to 90 healthy volunteers to be exposed to Covid-19 in world first trial

The world's first Covid-19 human chall...

Posted: Feb 17, 2021 12:17 PM

The world's first Covid-19 human challenge study will begin within a month in the UK, deliberately exposing up to 90 healthy young people to the coronavirus.

The study received ethics approval this week, the country's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said Wednesday in a statement.

During the trial, 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, the ministerial department said, adding that the study will play a "key role in developing effective Covid-19 vaccines and treatments."

In regular vaccine trials, volunteers are given an experimental vaccine and then released to live their everyday lives; researchers assume that a certain percentage of them will be exposed to the virus naturally.

In a challenge trial, by contrast, participants are deliberately dosed with the virus being targeted.

Challenge trials are nothing new, and have been carried out for cholera, typhoid, malaria, and even influenza.

Proponents of the trials say that they are more efficient, requiring far fewer volunteers because researchers know for certain that everyone will be exposed to the virus, and that they can deliver scientific data more quickly.

But critics worry about exposing people to a virus for which there is no fail-safe treatment, and say that the young, healthy volunteers are not representative of the wider population.

BEIS said the version of the virus used would be the one in circulation since March 2020 -- rather than any new strains -- emphasizing that it "has been shown to be of low risk in young healthy adults."

They added that researchers will also be working very closely with the Royal Free Hospital and the North Central London Adult Critical Care Network in the UK to ensure the study will not impact on the ability of the National Health Service to care for patients during the pandemic.

After the initial trial, vaccine candidates which had been proved safe in clinical trials could be given to small numbers of volunteers, the department said, to help identify the most effective vaccines.

"Not only can human infection studies speed up vaccine development, but data from this study will provide key insights into how Covid-19 affects us from as soon as we are infected, which will potentially inform research into new treatments," said Dr. Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at UK-based global charitable foundation Wellcome.

"Together, effective treatments, vaccines and testing will help communities around the world to protect themselves and bring this pandemic to an end sooner," he told the UK's Science Media Centre.

Earlier this week the UK met its target of offering a first dose of vaccine to 15 million people by mid-February. But the country has been hard hit by Covid-19, with more than 4 million total cases recorded so far.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 661673

Reported Deaths: 12573
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion906391639
Lake48389876
Allen35806635
Hamilton32056396
St. Joseph29947512
Elkhart25376414
Vanderburgh21245378
Tippecanoe20000201
Johnson16336359
Porter15957270
Hendricks15813300
Clark11946181
Madison11741316
Vigo11595229
Monroe10328161
Delaware9836179
LaPorte9761196
Howard9055197
Kosciusko8561109
Bartholomew7448147
Warrick7412150
Hancock7404131
Floyd7200169
Wayne6631191
Grant6424157
Morgan6084125
Boone608288
Dubois5903111
Dearborn547067
Cass544399
Marshall5423104
Henry542093
Noble509078
Jackson464566
Shelby460290
Lawrence4180112
Gibson401281
Harrison399663
Clinton395453
Montgomery386783
DeKalb385178
Knox357285
Miami357263
Whitley349136
Huntington343976
Steuben338155
Wabash331176
Putnam329759
Ripley327061
Adams323149
Jasper315943
White297352
Jefferson294873
Daviess285396
Fayette271556
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260831
Wells258274
Scott250350
Clay241044
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217130
Jennings215044
Washington211027
Sullivan203239
Fountain201442
Starke188051
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177728
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164722
Vermillion160442
Franklin159435
Tipton146341
Parke139216
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91913
Crawford90613
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53311
Unassigned0431

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 967422

Reported Deaths: 17297
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1118511208
Cuyahoga954841746
Hamilton73202970
Montgomery47226889
Summit40110957
Butler35435471
Lucas35217765
Stark29301840
Warren22361276
Lorain21952389
Mahoning19402543
Lake18358305
Clermont18327211
Delaware16415135
Licking14939200
Fairfield14491159
Trumbull14283462
Greene13548213
Medina13347219
Clark12223336
Wood11492193
Portage10982160
Allen10762235
Richland10250206
Miami10006190
Muskingum8153130
Columbiana8103182
Pickaway8033101
Tuscarawas8016236
Marion7979137
Wayne7848219
Erie6858184
Ross6123136
Geauga6051128
Hancock5979112
Ashtabula5937145
Scioto5920104
Lawrence523174
Union511252
Darke5025124
Belmont490989
Huron4781117
Jefferson4781108
Sandusky475996
Seneca4652103
Athens463133
Washington460587
Mercer4581101
Auglaize455099
Shelby440769
Knox401186
Putnam3984101
Madison391447
Ashland378495
Fulton377964
Defiance3711102
Brown369042
Crawford356696
Logan353259
Preble352571
Clinton339964
Highland327356
Ottawa322767
Williams301878
Jackson289256
Champaign285846
Guernsey285834
Fayette267844
Perry267543
Morrow259125
Henry245565
Hardin243957
Holmes2430104
Coshocton234547
Van Wert228849
Gallia221346
Adams215532
Pike214928
Wyandot209153
Hocking193549
Carroll180328
Paulding159723
Meigs134837
Noble128542
Monroe116136
Morgan100534
Harrison100432
Vinton76615
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