Volunteers will be deliberately infected with Covid-19 in human vaccine studies in London | London

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To London Covid A vaccine study that will deliberately inject participants with the virus is set to receive £ 33.6million in funding from the government.

Studies in partnership with Imperial College London, hVIVO and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust initially seek to find the smallest amount of virus needed to cause Covid-19 infection in small groups of healthy young people , which present the lowest risk of harm.

They will be carried out under strict conditions at the Royal Free Hospital in London and will feature healthy young adults, carefully selected by researchers, who will be paid for their involvement.

After the initial study, the volunteers will be followed for one year.

Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London, said the first part of the trial will involve exposing people to the virus to establish the lowest possible safe dose.

“As a first step, until May of next year, we plan to increase the dose and determine the exact safety.

“Once that’s done, we’ll be ready to test the vaccines face to face and compare different vaccines,” he said.



Professor Openshaw, who is a co-investigator on the project which will see humans exposed to Covid-19 in controlled environments, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that volunteers would be infected through their noses and then monitored “very carefully “.

“(These studies) are extremely informative because we can do very, very careful monitoring under controlled conditions,” he added.

“The purpose of these studies is not to make people sick, but to make the virus replicate in the nose.

“We think that by taking all the precautions we can really limit the infection and then we should be able to do it safely given the great experience we have in this area.”

The news comes after the government’s chief scientific adviser said it was “unlikely” that a coronavirus vaccine would completely stop the disease.

Sir Patrick Vallance said that only one disease – smallpox – had never been completely eradicated.

Giving evidence to the Commons and Lords Joint National Security Strategy Committee, he said that in the future, treatment for Covid-19 may look more like seasonal flu.

Sir Patrick said that over the next few months it will become clear whether there are vaccines that protect and for how long.

He added that, if a number of candidates elicit an immune response, only phase three trials will show whether they are preventing people from getting infected.

Officials said human challenge trials offer potential to accelerate vaccine development Crédit: David Cheskin / PA

Principal investigator of the Human Challenges Study, Dr Chris Chiu, Imperial College London, said: “Our number one priority is the safety of volunteers. No study is completely risk-free, but the partners of the Human Challenge Program will work hard to ensure that we reduce the risks as low as possible.

“The UK’s experience and expertise in human provocation trials, as well as the broader science of Covid-19, will help us fight the pandemic, to the benefit of people in the UK And in the world.”

Kate Bingham, chair of the government working group on vaccines, said: “This research will improve understanding of the virus, the biology of the disease, the signs that a person is protected from infection or the development of the disease, vaccine candidates, and will help make decisions about research, whether it is to be conducted safely and on the basis of up-to-date evidence.

“We can learn a lot in terms of immunity, duration of vaccine protection and reinfection.”

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “First, for the many vaccines still in the midst of their development, challenge studies in humans can help select the most promising for. move forward into larger phase three trials.

“Second, for vaccines that are in late stages of development and have already proven their safety and efficacy through phase three studies, human challenge studies could help us better understand whether vaccines prevent transmission and prevent disease.”

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