Would you be 'directly exposed to Covid' in new UK study for £4.5k?

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine at Constable Country Medical Practice.  

The world's first study will deliberately expose people to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled manner, to aid the development of vaccines and treatment. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Volunteers could be paid up to £4,500 to take part in the world's first study which will deliberately expose people to Covid-19 to aid vaccine and treatment development. 

The study will involve up to 90 carefully selected, healthy adults aged 18 to 30, who will be exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment to help scientists establish the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection. 

They will receive drops of the virus in the nose and will be required to quarantine for more than two weeks at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where they will be monitored at all times. 

The study, which has been approved by the UK's clinical trials ethics body and is expected to start within weeks, will give doctors a greater understanding of the virus which has caused devastation across the country. 

The study will initially use the version of Covid-19 which has been circulating since March 2020 - with hopes to develop the study for the mutant variants in the future. 


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The idea is that the study will help improve vaccine and treatment development as we continue to find a route back to normality. 

It is not designed to induce symptoms in the volunteers, as safety is paramount, and as soon as people start to shed the virus from their nose, they will be given remdesivir to prevent them from falling ill. 

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People aged between 18 and 30 years old, who are at the lowest risk of complications resulting from coronavirus, are being encouraged to volunteer for the programme. 

They will receive around £4,500 to participate in the study which will involve some 17 days of quarantine and follow-ups over 12 months.

The human challenge study is being delivered by a partnership between the Government’s Vaccines Taskforce, Imperial College London, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and the industry-leading clinical company hVIVO, which has pioneered viral human challenge models.

Highly trained medics and scientists will be on hand 24/7 to monitor the volunteers and to examine how the virus behaves in the body. 

Interim chairman 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.”

So far, three Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for use in the UK; the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, and the Moderna vaccine. 

More than 15million people have already received their first dose of the jab, which has been hailed by the Prime Minister as a huge success. 

It is now being rolled out to those in the over-65 category and the clinically vulnerable. 

This new human study could lead to further trials of potential vaccines, to help identify which ones are most effective.

You can express an interest in taking part in this research here.

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