The U.K. government has announced plans for a COVID-19 vaccine trial where healthy volunteers will be intentionally infected with the novel coronavirus.
The human challenge trial, led by scientists at Imperial College London, is scheduled to begin in January at a quarantine facility in London with 34 million pounds ($44 million) of funding from the British government, The New York Times and ABC News reported.
Volunteers will be vaccinated and then intentionally inhale a diluted dose of the virus while being closely monitored by scientists and doctors. The overall goal of the study is to test several vaccine candidates in a controlled environment.
Trial participants will include up to 90 healthy volunteers from 18 to 30 years old. They are including younger volunteers to minimize the risk of health complications. Once the volunteers have the virus, they will be monitored in a quarantine ward of the Royal Free Hospital. There, they will undergo daily, even hourly, tests over two to three weeks, the Washington Post reported.
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According to ABC News, Dr. Chris Chiu, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London and lead researcher on the human challenge study, said that the human challenge trial will be able to determine within 10 weeks how effective a COVID-19 vaccine is.
The study is expected to be complete in 2021 and is still subject to ethical and regulatory approval, CNBC reported. Experts are divided on whether the study is ethical, since there is no highly effective treatment for Covid-19.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed last week that a coronavirus vaccine for the respiratory illness may be available next year.
“[A vaccine] will likely be [available] within the first quarter of 2021, by let’s say April of 2021,” he told CBS Evening News. “But that would be predicated on the fact that all of the vaccines that are in clinical trials have proven to be safe and effective.”
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