In the UK, young and healthy volunteers are about to be infected with coronavirus

In the UK, young and healthy volunteers are about to be infected with coronavirus

In the UK

The study received ethics committee approval to find the minimum dose of coronavirus sufficient to infect a person and to study the interaction between the pathogen and the immune system

(illustration: Mattthewcat / Pixabay) Ne we had already talked about this pandemic in the first months, and now the possibility of starting a study on the coronavirus involving healthy people, to infect them on purpose, has materialized. With the support of the British government, in fact, the UK Covid Challenge should start in a few weeks, a research that will involve 90 healthy volunteers between 18 and 30 years old and who have never contracted the coronavirus. The aim for the moment is only to establish the minimum dose of Sars-Cov-2 capable of infecting a person and to try to deepen the interaction between the pathogen and the immune system from the earliest stages.

Uk Covid Challenge

The Uk Covid Challenge is a trial based on the Human Challenge Model, ie a study in which healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with a virus. In this specific case, the virus will obviously be Sars-Cov-2, to be precise in the version that has spread since last spring, so not in the variants that are gaining ground in recent weeks and which seem to be even more dangerous.

The study is a partnership between the British government, Imperial College London, the Royal Free London Nhs Foundation Trust and the company hVIVO, and has for the moment been authorized to proceed only to determine the dose minimum of coronavirus sufficient to infect a person.

The 90 volunteers (healthy people between 18 and 30 who have never contracted Sars-Cov-2) will be divided into small cohorts. Scientists will begin nasally administering a small amount of the virus to the first cohort, and if people do not become infected they will proceed to increase the doses in subsequent cohorts until the minimum amount of coronavirus capable of establishing the infection is found. After the administration, the volunteers will be kept in quarantine inside a hospital for two weeks, constantly monitored. For their commitment, to compensate the absence from work and the distance from the family, each volunteer will receive 4,500 pounds, equal to 5,193 euros.

The idea, then, is to continue the study with vaccinated volunteers to to test the effectiveness of current products against new variants and second generation anti-Covid vaccines. But other permissions will be needed to proceed.

The pros

Studies of this kind are usually used to verify the effectiveness of a vaccine. They have already been done in the past for diseases such as malaria or typhus and continue to be there for the flu. They follow a different model than the other vaccine trials that we have come to know in the last year (in which volunteers are expected to naturally expose themselves to the virus within the community), but they have advantages from a scientific point of view. Advantages that were evidently considered by the British ethics committee outweigh the risks that volunteers could run.

Experts who support the need for studies of this kind believe they are essential to continue developing new vaccines and specific treatments for COVID-19. "We expect these studies to offer unique insights into how the virus works and help us understand which future vaccines offer the best chance of preventing infection," said Clive Dix, head of the UK's Vaccines Taskforce. br>
"We will learn a lot about the immunology of the virus", commented Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London, involved in the study, adding that the study would be able to "accelerate not only the understanding of the manifestations caused by the infection , but also to accelerate the discovery of new treatments and vaccines ”.

The cons

However, controversial points are not lacking. For example, it is true that Human Challenge Model studies have been done in the past and are still being done, but intentionally caused diseases usually have treatment protocols that guarantee a large margin of safety. For Covid this is not the case: there are serious cases even among young and healthy people, the trend is unpredictable and there are no specific therapies.

Furthermore, some believe that it would be a limited study precisely because the volunteers are young and healthy: we go to deepen the knowledge of the mechanisms of the virus in the target that needs it least, obtaining results that will hardly be able to be translated on elderly people or people with previous pathologies, who have different immune reactions.

Finally, it is unclear how regulatory authorities in Britain and around the world could evaluate the results of a similar study, again in relation to the fact that the data would be limited by age and the small number of people involved. br>

Powered by Blogger.