UK volunteers set to be the first to take part in ‘challenge trials’

A health worker holds blood samples during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

London is set to host the first human coronavirus “challenge trials,” where volunteers are deliberately exposed to Covid-19 in order to test whether vaccines work, according to a report in the Financial Times. 

The government-funded trials are due to be announced next week, the report said which cited several anonymous sources involved in the project, and are expected to begin in January in a quarantine facility in east London. 

Volunteers in the challenge trials would first be given the experimental vaccine and then receive a dose of the virus around a month later. 

Around 2,000 people in the U.K. are said to have volunteered for the study so far through the organization 1Day Sooner, with 37,000 volunteers signed up globally. In July, the organization published an open letter addressed to Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S., which called for the trails and included signatories from 15 Nobel laureates. 

The FT report said 1Day Sooner is launching a campaign this week to get public funding for a biocontainment facility for the studies, big enough to quarantine 100 to 200 volunteers. 

Read the full article here.

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