Experts from the NHS, academia and the private sector are joining forces with the government in a new partnership to explore and establish human challenge trials in the UK to speed up the development of vaccines for Covid-19 vaccine.
In human challenge studies, a vaccine candidate that has proven to be safe in initial trials is given to a small number of healthy adult volunteers who are then exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment. Medics and scientists then closely monitor the effect on volunteers to see exactly how the vaccine works and to identify any side effects.
The initial aim of the research team will be to discover the smallest amount of virus it takes to cause Covid-19 infection in small groups of healthy young people, aged between 18 and 30, who are at the lowest risk of harm.
Prof Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London, and Honorary Physician in the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the St Mary’s Campus of Imperial College NHS Trust
Dr Andrew Catchpole, Chief Scientific Officer at hVIVO
Dr Chris Chiu, Principal Investigator, and Clinical Reader and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, and Lead at the Imperial Network for Vaccine Research
Sir Michael Jacobs, Consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Prof Robert Read, Head of Clinical and Experimental Sciences within Medicine at the University of Southampton, and Director of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research centre
This briefing was accompanied by an SMC Roundup of Comments.