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Up to 90 healthy volunteers to be exposed to Covid-19 in world first trial

The world's first Covid-19 human chall...

Posted: Feb 17, 2021 12:17 PM

The world's first Covid-19 human challenge study will begin within a month in the UK, deliberately exposing up to 90 healthy young people to the coronavirus.

The study received ethics approval this week, the country's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said Wednesday in a statement.

During the trial, up to 90 volunteers aged 18-30 years will be exposed to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled environment to increase understanding of how the virus affects people, the ministerial department said, adding that the study will play a "key role in developing effective Covid-19 vaccines and treatments."

In regular vaccine trials, volunteers are given an experimental vaccine and then released to live their everyday lives; researchers assume that a certain percentage of them will be exposed to the virus naturally.

In a challenge trial, by contrast, participants are deliberately dosed with the virus being targeted.

Challenge trials are nothing new, and have been carried out for cholera, typhoid, malaria, and even influenza.

Proponents of the trials say that they are more efficient, requiring far fewer volunteers because researchers know for certain that everyone will be exposed to the virus, and that they can deliver scientific data more quickly.

But critics worry about exposing people to a virus for which there is no fail-safe treatment, and say that the young, healthy volunteers are not representative of the wider population.

BEIS said the version of the virus used would be the one in circulation since March 2020 -- rather than any new strains -- emphasizing that it "has been shown to be of low risk in young healthy adults."

They added that researchers will also be working very closely with the Royal Free Hospital and the North Central London Adult Critical Care Network in the UK to ensure the study will not impact on the ability of the National Health Service to care for patients during the pandemic.

After the initial trial, vaccine candidates which had been proved safe in clinical trials could be given to small numbers of volunteers, the department said, to help identify the most effective vaccines.

"Not only can human infection studies speed up vaccine development, but data from this study will provide key insights into how Covid-19 affects us from as soon as we are infected, which will potentially inform research into new treatments," said Dr. Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at UK-based global charitable foundation Wellcome.

"Together, effective treatments, vaccines and testing will help communities around the world to protect themselves and bring this pandemic to an end sooner," he told the UK's Science Media Centre.

Earlier this week the UK met its target of offering a first dose of vaccine to 15 million people by mid-February. But the country has been hard hit by Covid-19, with more than 4 million total cases recorded so far.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1618800

Reported Deaths: 27293
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61736011008
DuPage1046611362
Will880201094
Lake777031062
Kane66333853
Winnebago39340548
Madison38593580
St. Clair35266573
McHenry33333318
Peoria26153363
Champaign26090186
Sangamon24861275
McLean22133209
Tazewell19930326
Rock Island18002350
Kankakee16955235
Kendall15607107
Macon14654245
LaSalle14590279
Vermilion13453190
Adams12764148
DeKalb11778129
Williamson11621162
Whiteside7981176
Jackson779490
Boone766082
Coles7462113
Ogle720487
Grundy707482
Franklin7007100
Clinton684999
Knox6791166
Marion6617138
Macoupin6562101
Henry631374
Effingham619582
Jefferson6154136
Livingston575296
Woodford558591
Stephenson553390
Randolph535197
Monroe511899
Christian498081
Fulton495370
Morgan490596
Logan480174
Montgomery472176
Lee461560
Bureau429888
Perry418372
Saline416567
Fayette407259
Iroquois399373
McDonough358956
Jersey326053
Shelby319943
Crawford310230
Douglas309036
Lawrence305432
Union297947
Wayne279057
White269132
Richland266556
Hancock260734
Pike258556
Clark255238
Cass253829
Bond245624
Clay244148
Edgar238445
Ford236258
Warren228862
Carroll226837
Johnson215925
Moultrie214231
Jo Daviess208126
Washington207228
Wabash205417
Massac201744
Mason201151
Greene200939
De Witt198130
Piatt193114
Mercer192234
Cumberland180626
Menard162612
Jasper154018
Marshall135821
Hamilton130021
Brown10268
Pulaski100011
Schuyler9779
Edwards97016
Stark77627
Gallatin7597
Scott6985
Alexander68211
Henderson66814
Calhoun6472
Hardin56615
Putnam5494
Pope4995
Unassigned1772432
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 954230

Reported Deaths: 15474
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1298902003
Lake638781106
Allen54326765
Hamilton44326448
St. Joseph42368592
Elkhart33998491
Vanderburgh30740451
Tippecanoe27012251
Johnson23862420
Hendricks22576343
Porter21943348
Clark17657231
Madison17628387
Vigo16465285
Monroe14637193
LaPorte14493241
Delaware14291225
Howard14058274
Kosciusko11562137
Hancock11022168
Warrick10793179
Bartholomew10730171
Floyd10584209
Wayne10169230
Grant9271206
Morgan9000160
Boone8507112
Dubois7823124
Dearborn776391
Henry7749134
Noble7510101
Marshall7452129
Cass7244118
Lawrence7080154
Shelby6701111
Jackson666386
Gibson6233107
Harrison613287
Huntington608397
Montgomery5903106
DeKalb587591
Knox5589105
Miami554889
Putnam547668
Clinton540566
Whitley534054
Steuben506570
Wabash492792
Jasper487763
Jefferson478992
Ripley463477
Adams448868
Daviess4267109
Scott413065
Clay398358
Greene396892
White396158
Wells393285
Decatur391297
Fayette383380
Posey364341
Jennings358857
Washington336847
LaGrange327375
Spencer323037
Randolph320290
Fountain320156
Sullivan311349
Owen289764
Starke287565
Fulton282356
Orange279259
Jay260038
Perry256353
Carroll247129
Franklin244938
Rush238930
Vermillion237751
Parke222421
Tipton214255
Pike214041
Blackford172934
Pulaski170351
Crawford148519
Newton147046
Benton144716
Brown136646
Martin130618
Switzerland127810
Warren116116
Union99511
Ohio80911
Unassigned0494