UK volunteers could be injected with coronavirus to test vaccines

LONDON, Dec. 4, 2018 (Xinhua) — British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London, Britain on Dec. 4, 2018. British MPs on Tuesday voted by 311 to 293 to find ministers in contempt of parliament over their failure to publish the full legal advice on the Brexit deal. (Xinhua/Stephen Chung/IANS)

London, Sep 24 (IANS) The UK could be the first country in the world to carry out Covid ‘challenge trials’, where healthy volunteers would be deliberately infected with coronavirus to test possible vaccines, a report said.

According to the BBC, the UK government said that it was holding discussions about developing a vaccine through such “human challenge studies”. No contracts have yet been signed.

Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, an 18-year old university student, is planning to volunteer for the trial if it is given the green light to go ahead.

“I think the challenge trial has the potential to save thousands of lives and really bring the world out of the pandemic sooner. It is just something that made instant sense to me,” AFraser-Urquhart was quoted as saying in the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Speaking on the same programme, Peter Horby, professor at the Oxford University, said that he thought the trial is a good idea with real potential to advance science and get a better understanding of the disease.

Horby said that it is likely that the volunteers would be observed very closely and their immune systems would be monitored to see how they respond to the virus.

There are — perhaps surprisingly — lots of young and healthy people ready to volunteer for the coronavirus challenge trials. It would be a way of finding out, almost immediately, whether a vaccine works. And it could help speed the selection of the promising coronavirus vaccines.

According to the report, the health of the volunteers would be monitored round the clock at a clinical research facility in London.


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