Ninety people have agreed to be deliberately infected with the Coronavirus as part of a new study in the United Kingdom called the UK Covid Challenge. Yes, you did hear that right! The U.K will be conducting the world’s first study on how Covid-19 affects the human body by infecting 90 healthy volunteers.
This sounds kind of like all of those Instagram challenges where celebrities post silly videos of themselves in order to raise money and awareness for such and such charity. But this is a lot more serious and the stakes are much higher.
The Human Challenge Model, as this is called, is used to develop vaccines and treatments across multiple diseases including malaria, typhoid, norovirus, common cold and Influenza. The model has been established and used safely over many years.
Up to 90 volunteers aged 18 – 30 years of age will be exposed to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled environment in order for researchers to increase understanding of how the virus affects people as well as to develop new and better vaccines. They also hope to develop treatments for future possible Covid pandemics that will prevent deaths from such virus as well as the need for people to be placed on ventilators.
Once this initial study has taken place, vaccine candidates, which have proven to be safe in clinical trials, could be given to small numbers of volunteers who are then exposed to the Covid-19 virus, helping to identify the most effective vaccines and accelerate their development.
The UK’s Interim Chair of the Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix said:
“We have secured a number of safe and effective vaccines for the UK, but it is essential that we continue to develop new vaccines and treatments for Covid-19. We expect these studies to offer unique insights into how the virus works and help us understand which promising vaccines offer the best chance of preventing the infection.”