The UK is set to become the first country in the world to run a COVID-19 human challenge study after receiving a green light from its clinical trials ethics body in order to provide a faster way to develop vaccines.
According to the application, hVIVO is conducting the research, Human Challenge Model, under which healthy volunteers will be deliberately exposed to a virus known as the “challenge virus.” These trials will be different from the standard vaccine clinical trial, wherein volunteers are exposed to viruses naturally.
Up to 90 volunteers aged 18-30 will participate in a safe and controlled environment to increase understanding of how the virus affects people. The volunteers will be compensated.
The £33.6-million project is the first of its kind study, which will be using a strain of the virus that has been circulating in the UK since March 2020. Vaccines that have been proven to be safe will be administered to the volunteers to study the efficacy of each of them.
“While there has been very positive progress in vaccine development, we want to find the best and most effective vaccines for use over the longer term. These human challenge studies will take place here in the Uk and help accelerate scientists’ knowledge of how coronavirus affects people and could eventually further the rapid development of vaccines,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
According to recent updates, 2.43 million people have died of COVID-19 since 2020.
With the first case of the virus originating in the city of Wuhan, some were quick to point fingers at China in search of someone to blame. In January, former US President Donald Trump was one of the figures who alleged that the virus came from a lab in China. His administration released a fact sheet that detailed the alleged origin of COVID-19 and accused China of hiding information about the virus’s nature.
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