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Challenge testing will trial COVID inoculation

Thursday February 18th 2021

The UK is to run the world’s first challenge testing for COVID-19 vaccine development in a bid to speed up the response to rapidly developing mutations, it has been announced.

The first project, which gained ethical approval yesterday, will gather 90 volunteers aged between 18 and 30 in a project that will first of all test the prospects for inoculation.

Researchers said they were seeking to establish the smallest dose of virus needed to cause infections. The initial study will use the initial form of the virus from last year.

The project is to be run at Imperial College, London and the Royal Free Hospital together with a biotech company hVIVO and is backed by more than £33 million in funding from the UK government.

Researcher Dr Chris Chiu, from Imperial College London, said: “We are asking for volunteers aged between 18 and 30 to join this research endeavour to help us to understand how the virus infects people and how it passes so successfully between us. Our eventual aim is to quickly test which vaccines and treatments work best in beating this disease.”

The Chair of the UK Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix said: “No one vaccine is likely to be suited to everyone so we must continue to develop new vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 coronavirus. This will help us to ensure that people across the UK and the world can be protected against this disease. We expect these studies to offer unique insights into how the virus works and help us understand which promising vaccines offer the best chance of preventing the infection.”

hVIVO chief scientific officer Dr Andrew Catchpole said: “We will start to see useful results very quickly after the commencement of the study. From the moment we inoculate someone with this virus, we will learn important information about disease progression and treatment. This crucial data feeds directly back into how to develop effective vaccines and better treatments because they identify what type of immune response needs to be triggered.”

[Trial site]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | UK News

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