BRITAIN 1ST COUNTRY TO INFECT VOLUNTEERS WITH COVID VIRUS FOR STUDY
Britain has become the first country to infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus as part of a so-called human challenge study, the Health Ministry confirmed to Larissa Schwedes of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
The first tests in the study, which involves volunteers who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, started on Saturday, it said.
"The Human Challenge Program will improve and accelerate the development of vaccines and treatments against COVID-19, and the first group of volunteers have now started the virus characterization study at the Royal Free Hospital in London," a Health Ministry spokeswoman told dpa.
"These carefully selected adults will be exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment, with medics and scientists on hand to monitor and look after them 24 hours a day," she added.
For the study, scientists selected up to 90 volunteers who are young, healthy and unlikely to contract severe COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the coronavirus. They are initially to be exposed to the lowest dosage of virus necessary for infection.
The study aims to research how the immune system reacts to the virus and how virus particles react to the environment.
According to earlier reports by the British government, this is the first human challenge trial conducted worldwide regarding the novel coronavirus, Sars-CoV-2.
German scientists have criticized such human challenge trials, saying infections in a lab are not the same as infections in real life.
The German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (VfA) said these studies are unethical and might produce distorted results, as they are only conducted with young, healthy respondents and the findings might not apply to elderly people.