UK to host ‘world’s first Covid vaccine challenge’ with volunteers injected with deadly bug & NO proven treatment


BRITS will be the first in the world to try a controversial coronavirus trial that will see them given the killer bug with no proven treatment.

Scientists in the UK are working on a “challenge trial” that could rapidly speed up the process of finding a vaccine against the disease.

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The UK is working on an experimental coronavirus trial

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The UK is working on an experimental coronavirus trialCredit: Alamy

But the participants will be infected with a dose of the virus that causes Covid-19 a month after being given the potential vaccine, the Financial Times reports.

The trials have been used before when developing vaccines against malaria, typhoid and flue.

But with coronavirus, there is no proven treatment for the disease and therefore nothing to stop volunteers falling seriously ill.

The trial – reportedly being funded by the government – is due to begin in January at a clinic in East London.

It would accelerate the progress of current trials which currently rely on volunteers catching the disease in the community.

SAFETY ‘TOP PRIORITY’

Any trials conducted in Britain have to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

They told the newspaper: “Human challenge trials can be helpful for the development of vaccines and can provide early evidence of clinical efficacy, particularly when there are low rates of infection of the virus in the population.

“The safety of trial participants is our top priority and any proposal from a developer to include a human infection challenge as part of a clinical trial for development of a vaccine would be considered on a benefit-risk basis, with risks monitored for and minimised in the proposed trial design.”

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Up to 200 people are expected to be recruited with the trial run by a group in the US that campaigns for human challenge trials in pandemics.

Scientists would have to select and purify a strain of the disease before deciding on the safest dose to give participants without causing serious illness.

But as the strain of the virus is so new, experts are still undecided on what qualifies as a safe dose – especially given how coronavirus affects different people.

RACE FOR VACCINE

It is not clear what age the volunteers will be – with younger people much less susceptible to the disease.

But those taking part could be paid around £4,000, the FT reports,

The researchers would also need medication on standby to prevent any serious side effects, which could prove a sticking point in approving the trial.

Dr Claire Waddington, clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Cambridge, said: “Challenge trials are well established as a way to accelerate the development of vaccines for a wide range of infections.  

“As we gain more understanding of Covid-19, we are increasingly in a position to identify those people for who Covid-19 infection is a mild illness, and these people could safely participate in a controlled human infection study after a thorough medical assessment and consent process. 

“Such a model could give us some extremely useful information on how the immune system responds to Covid-19 and what responses are protective, as well as providing a model for early testing of candidate vaccines.”

Matt Hancock said this week he is still hopeful the UK will get a coronavirus vaccine later this year – but added “early next year” is more likely.

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The Health Secretary told the public it is still possible one could be found in the next few months.

He told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “There is still hope that we will get one of the vaccines over the line this year.

“The Oxford vaccine is still at the front of the queue. More likely is next year, and probably the early part of next year.

“We have got the cavalry coming over the next few months – the vaccine, the mass testing and the improvements in treatments – but we have got to all follow the rules between now and then to keep people safe.”

 

 

Matt Hancock says ‘still hope’ of coronavirus vaccine this year – but ‘early next year’ more likely





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