Challenge Trials – Deliberately Infect Volunteers?

Angie Szumlinski
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December 1, 2020
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Britain has announced that it will invest 33.6 million pounds ($43.5 million) in the so-called “human challenge” trials in partnership with Imperial College London, laboratory and trial services company hVIVO, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. If approved by regulators and an ethics committee, the studies will start in January with results expected by May 2021 the government said. Up to 90 volunteers could be involved in the initial stages and the virus to be used will be manufactured in labs at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Critics of human challenge trials say deliberately infecting someone with a potentially deadly disease for which there is currently no effective treatment is unethical. A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said that there are “very important ethical considerations” when approaching such human challenge trials. “What is critical is that if people are considering this, it must be overseen by an ethics committee and the volunteers must have full consent.” “Number one priority is the safety of the volunteers”.

Not sure if I would be participating in this “challenge” but what an interesting study! It will be interesting to see how many volunteers step up and what the ethics committee has to say. Stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned!


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