British regulators have approved the world's first coronavirus human challenge trial, in which volunteers will be deliberately exposed to the virus to study how infection spreads. The government said Wednesday that the UK's clinical trials ethics regulator has approved the trial and it will start within a month. The aim is to develop more effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, per the AP. Researchers are seeking up to 90 volunteers ages 18 to 30, who will be exposed to COVID-19 "in a safe and controlled environment." The study will try to determine the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection.
Young people are being asked to volunteer as they have the lowest risk of serious illness from the coronavirus. Participants in the study will be monitored 24 hours a day, and they'll be compensated for their participation. Reuters notes that, to keep the trial as safe as possible, the original version of the coronavirus that's been making its way around England since early last year will be used, not one of the variants that has since emerged. After scientists determine just how much of the virus is needed to trigger the infection, volunteers could subsequently be given vaccine candidates before exposure, which may help narrow down which vaccines are most effective.
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