| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

Scientists launch trial to re-infect COVID-19 survivors, volunteers could get £5,000

Scientists have launched a trial to deliberately infect people with COVID-19 after they have already contracted the virus, the MailOnline reported on Monday.

The study will help define the level of immune protection which stops people being re-infected, which helps fast-track future vaccines.

Led by the University of Oxford, this trial will expose every volunteer to the virus, so that only those with a strong enough immune response will avoid being re-infected.

Researchers hope to ascertain what level of immune response keeps people protected.

This could mean vaccines which produce that golden level of immunity could be fast-tracked and licensed without trials of tens of thousands of people being needed.

Study lead and Professor of vaccinology, Helen McShane said: “If we can determine… that a certain level of antibodies means it’s not possible to reinfect somebody, that would feed very immediately into designing the most effective vaccines.”

The study, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is expected to begin this month after receiving ethics approval, is slated to 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.

Volunteers will receive nearly £5,000 for participating in the study.

They will have to be quarantined for at least 17 days after getting infected, and will be followed-up over the course of a year.

Human challenge studies have played an essential role in accelerating the development of treatments for diseases such as typhoid, malaria, TB, flu and cholera.

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

Healthy volunteers are paid £4,500 to get infected with the virus, with scientists keeping them under 24-hour surveillance until they recover.

Participants will be administered a small shot of COVID-19 via a nasal spray, and then asked to lie flat on their backs for 30 minutes to allow it to enter their respiratory system.

Then, they are quarantined at the Royal Free Hospital, London, for around 2 weeks or until they recover from the infection. They then have follow-up appointments every few weeks for a year.

In early March, the first volunteers were infected and have now been discharged after no ill-effects.

Despite COVID-19 infections being 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 COVID-19 became re-infected.

  • Daily Mail