Fifteen Nobel laureates are among the prominent scientists calling on the UK government to support trials in which healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with COVID-19 to accelerate vaccine development.
The Guardian reports that writing in an open letter to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, the experts said the benefits of “human challenge trials” far outweighed the risks, in line with World Health Organisation guidance that has concluded such trials are ethical as long as volunteers are young and healthy, informed consent is procured, high-quality medical care is on hand, and thorough ethical and scientific review is championed.
After an appropriate strain and dose of the virus is selected, vaccinated volunteers are intentionally infected – yielding results potentially quicker than conventional vaccine field trials in which researchers must wait for participants to get infected in the real world. These studies can also be used to compare the safety and effectiveness of multiple vaccine candidates.
UK government-funded human challenge studies could kick off in January, it was report in September.
The US and the UK both have experience conducting these challenge trials, noted Abie Rohrig, director of communications at 1Day Sooner, a non-profit organisation that advocates for COVID-19 challenge trial volunteers and published the letter.
Full report in The Guardian