Healthy volunteers to get almost £5,000 to be exposed to Covid-19

19 April 2021, 06:17 | Updated: 19 April 2021, 08:12

Young and healthy volunteers will be paid almost £5,000 to be re-exposed to Covid-19
Young and healthy volunteers will be paid almost £5,000 to be re-exposed to Covid-19. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Young, healthy volunteers who have previously had Covid-19 will be paid almost £5,000 to be deliberately exposed to the virus again for a landmark new UK study.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have launched what is known as a "human challenge" trial to look at what happens when someone who has recovered from Covid-19 infection is then re-exposed to the virus and how the immune system reacts differently.

They will aim to determine what dose of virus is needed to re-infect after natural infection, how the immune system responds, and what this may mean for developing protective immunity against the disease.

Read more: 'For now we are okay' with India not on 'red list', minister tells LBC

The study, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is expected to start this month after receiving ethics approval, will recruit people aged 18-30 who have previously been naturally infected with Covid-19.

They will be re-exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment while a team of researchers monitor their health.

Outrage over vaccine passports 'an overreaction'

Human challenge studies have played a key role in furthering the development of treatments for diseases such as malaria, TB, typhoid, cholera and flu.

A similar study is ongoing in the UK where volunteers are being infected with coronavirus to test vaccines and treatments.

Helen McShane, professor of vaccinology at the department of paediatrics, University of Oxford and chief investigator on the study, said: "Challenge studies tell us things that other studies cannot because, unlike natural infection, they are tightly controlled.

Read more: Hospitality bosses urge PM to commit to roadmap indoor reopening dates

"When we re-infect these participants, we will know exactly how their immune system has reacted to the first Covid infection, exactly when the second infection occurs, and exactly how much virus they got.

"As well as enhancing our basic understanding, this may help us to design tests that can accurately predict whether people are protected."

Environment Sec. believes India doesn't need to be put on red list

While Covid-19 infections have been rare, recent research suggests prior infection may not fully protect young people against reinfection.

The observational study, published in the Lancet involving US Marine Corps members mostly aged 18-20, showed that between May and November 2020, around 10% of participants who had previously caught coronavirus became re-infected.

The Oxford study will take phase in two phases.

The first phase, involving 64 healthy volunteers, will aim to establish the lowest dose of virus which can take hold and start replicating.

Once the dosing amount is established, it will be used to infect participants in the second phase of the study, which is expected to start in the summer.

Prof McShane said: "We will measure the immune response at several time points after infection so we can understand what immune response is generated by the virus.

"A challenge study allows us to make these measurements very precisely because we know exactly when someone is infected.

"The information from this work will allow us to design better vaccines and treatments, and also to understand if people are protected after having Covid, and for how long."

Prof McShane virus used in the study will be the original strain from Wuhan, China, "because that is the strain that we have most clinical, immunological (and) virological data on" but added discussions are under way to include one of the new coronavirus variants.

The participants will be quarantined for 17 days under and cared for by the research team at a hospital until they are no longer at risk of infecting others.

Those who develop symptoms will be given a monoclonal antibody treatment developed by Regeneron, which contains laboratory-made antibodies that have shown to reduced the risk of disease progression in clinical trials.

The full length of the study will be 12 months, which will include eight follow-up appointments after discharge.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Former US president Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York

Defence rests without Donald Trump entering witness box in hush money trial

'Genuinely dangerous to be Jewish' near London's pro-Palestinian marches, Michael Gove says

'Genuinely dangerous to be Jewish' near London's pro-Palestinian marches, Michael Gove says

Relatives of victims pose with the Infected Blood Inquiry final report as they gather outside Westminster

Infected blood victims to receive £210,000 payment within weeks, paymaster general confirms

Spain’s embassy in the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Spain withdraws ambassador to Argentina over comments made by President Milei

The granddaughter of Elvis Presley is fighting plans to publicly auction his Graceland estate in Memphis

Elvis Presley’s granddaughter fights company’s attempt to sell Graceland estate

Elon Musk

Tesla shareholders ask investors to vote against Musk’s compensation package

Mourners gather around a truck carrying coffins of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions who were killed in a helicopter crash

Mourners begin days of funerals for Iran’s president killed in helicopter crash

British pensioner, 73, dead after 'heart attack' when London-Singapore flight plummeted during severe turbulence

British pensioner, 73, dead after 'heart attack' when London-Singapore flight plummeted during severe turbulence

German’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock speaks to Ukrainian energy minister Herman Halushchenko on a visit to a thermal power plant which was destroyed by a Russian rocket attack in Ukraine

Germany’s foreign minister visits Kyiv as Ukraine battles Russian offensive

England's Euro 2024 squad has been revealed in full

Rashford and Henderson to miss out on Euro 2024 as England squad unveiled by Gareth Southgate

One passenger died and several people were injured after the flight experience severe turbulence

'The plane just dropped': Passengers tell of terror as flight plunges in ‘severe turbulence’ leaving one dead

Angeline Mahal, aged in her 50s, was attacked in her Hornchurch home.

Woman mauled to death by her 2 XL Bully dogs pictured - as it emerges her family ‘begged to get rid of them’

Syria’s first lady Asma Assad, second left, with her husband Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s wife, Asma Assad, diagnosed with leukaemia

London theatre sparks row with 50k-a-year job ad encouraging applicants from ‘global majority’ and ‘criminal class’

London theatre sparks row with 50k-a-year job ad encouraging applicants from ‘global majority’ and ‘criminal class’

Exclusive
Sadiq Khan dismisses Gove’s antisemitism warning as ‘flowery rhetoric’ - but agrees protest chant should stop

Sadiq Khan dismisses Gove’s antisemitism warning as ‘flowery rhetoric’ - but agrees protest chant should stop

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron to visit violence-hit New Caledonia