In the midst of the global race to find an effective vaccine against Covid-19 as soon as possible, the United Kingdom has put on the table the option of carrying out the so-called human challenge trials, in which volunteers are deliberately infected with the virus, in this case SARS-CoV-2. However, such trials would require prior ethical and safety approval from regulators.
The British Pharmaceutical Group Open Orphan He is already doing the preliminary work for the trials while they negotiate with the Executive Boris Johnson. As stated to the agency Reuters the CEO of that company, Cathal Friel, “we are in talks with numerous parties, including the UK Government, around a Covid-19 challenge study, and once any of those contracts is signed we will make a statement. “
On the part of the British Executive, a spokesperson has indicated that they are “working with partners to understand how we could collaborate in the potential development of a vaccine against Covid-19 through human challenge studies“. The same source has added that any of these studies must first comply” with strong regulatory and ethical frameworks in the United Kingdom”.
Supporters of conducting this type of testing argue that it is a good method shorten the process of developing a vaccine, which requires it to be tested on thousands of volunteers previously.
In human challenge studies, participants receive the corresponding dose of the vaccine and, approximately one month later, are deliberately infected with the virus under controlled conditions. To see if the vaccine is really effective against the disease, volunteers are isolated, quarantined and watched for its effects.
This method is not without controversy since, according to the most critical, it is not ethical deliberately infecting a healthy person with a life-threatening disease for which there is currently no effective treatment.