Researchers in the U.K. say they’ll pay 24 volunteers $4,500 each to be injected with the coronavirus as part of a clinical trial to test for a vaccine.
COVID-19 has killed 4,269 people worldwide and infected at least 118,635, according to Worldometer.
Medical research and development company Hvivo runs a quarantine lab at Queen Mary BioEnterprises Innovation Centre in London. It’s one of more than 20 companies in the world that is racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the U.K.’s Sunday Times reported.
At the U.K. testing labs, human guinea pigs will go through a battery of tests before being selected. “We’ve actually all been exposed to many coronaviruses, which means we could have some kind of underlying immunity to it,” said Andrew Catchpole, Hvivo’s chief scientist, in a Times interview.
Volunteers who qualify for the trial will agree to be injected with two weaker strains of the coronavirus which can cause mild respiratory illness. This will let researchers test out new vaccines and antiviral medications in a controlled environment.
Volunteers will be quarantined for 14 days and monitored by doctors and nurses in protective gear — their only human contact for two weeks. Patients are expected to experience mild symptoms of a cough or cold, said Prof. John Oxford, an expert in virology at the Queen Mary University of London.
You can find more information on how to volunteer at Hvivo’s FluCamp website.
In addition to being sick and isolated, participants will be fed a restricted diet and will have to avoid exercise, New York Post reported.
“Drugs companies can get a very good idea within a few months of starting a vaccine study whether it’s working or not, using such a small sample of people,” said Andrew Catchpole, Hvivo’s chief scientist.
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In the U.S., the approval process for vaccines is much more demanding than for most medicines. Even if the samples pass clinical tests, production of a usable coronavirus vaccine will probably take 12 to 18 months, USA Today reported.
That’s because “vaccines are given to healthy people as prevention,” said Dr. David Relman, Stanford University professor of microbiology and immunology and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. “You don’t want to make healthy people sick.”
Preventive vaccines don’t treat or cure sickness. They prime healthy immune systems to fight disease. Therapeutic vaccines can boost your immune system’s effectiveness.