'Human Challenge study' infecting informed healthy volunteers with COVID-19 to begin in 2021
Such trials could help reduce the number of animals used in COVID-19 related research while speeding up the marketing of an effective vaccine. Researchers in the UK announced they will start the first challenge study deliberately exposing volunteers to the virus early 2021.
In an open letter to the Director of the US National Institutes of Health published last July, the vaccine advocacy group 1Day Sooner urged regulators to permit and begin to prepare for “human challenge” vaccine trials with the objective of ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Working Group for Guidance on Human Challenge Studies in COVID-19 of the World Health Organisation stated in May that such trials would be “substantially faster to conduct” than standard field trials, which require a sufficient number of experiments. Faster results could prevent additional deaths, stricter restrictions as well as unemployment.
The study will be led by researchers from the Imperial College London in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, clinical company hVIVO and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. The U.K. government will invest $43.4 million (33.6 million pounds) in the study, according to NPR.