British trial becomes first to expose participants to COVID-19

by Jordyn Pair · Feb 18th, 2021 12:06 pm
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Last Updated Feb 18th, 2021 at 3:58 pm

A British medical trial will become the first in the world to give COVID-19 to volunteers in order to advance research on the virus.

The trial is set to begin within a month and will see 90 healthy volunteers given the smallest amount of virus needed to cause an infection. Volunteers, who are between ages 18 and 30, will be screened for possible health risks before the trial and will be kept in quarantine for at least 14 days under professional monitoring.

"The absolute priority, of course, is the safety of volunteers," said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, which is co-leading the trial. "None of us wants to do this if there is any appreciable risk."

Imperial College London is working on the trial with the UK government's vaccines task force and clinical company hVIVO.

Imperial's Chris Chiu, the trial's chief investigator, has said that the participants will be allowed to return home after 14 days if "extensive testing" shows they are not infectious. Chiu said the study is meant to "understand how the virus infects people and how it passes so successfully between us."

The trial will use the version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been in the country since March 2020, rather than a new variant.

Participants will receive compensation of roughly $122 per day.


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