World's first human COVID-19 trials to start in UK

World's first human COVID-19 trials to start in UK

Up to 90 healthy volunteers will to be exposed to Covid-19 in world first trial will begin within a month in the UK.


First Covid-19 human challenge study will begin within a month, after receiving ethics approval in the same week the UK hits target of offering first dose to 15 million people.


Researchers call on healthy young people to volunteer for the study, which will play a key role in developing effective Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.

Up to 90 volunteers aged 18 - 30 years will be exposed to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled environment to increase understanding of how the virus affects people.


£33.6 million UK government investment


Backed by a £33.6 million UK government investment, the first-of-its-kind study for this virus will involve establishing the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection, which will give doctors greater understanding of Covid-19 and help support the pandemic response by aiding vaccine and treatment development.


Due to begin in the next few weeks, it will involve up to 90 carefully selected, healthy adult volunteers being exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment.


The safety of volunteers is paramount, which means this virus characterisation study will initially use the version of the virus that has been circulating in the UK since March 2020 and has been shown to be of low risk in young healthy adults. Medics and scientists will closely monitor the effect of the virus on volunteers and will be on hand to look after them 24 hours a day.


The researchers are also working very closely with the Royal Free Hospital and the North Central London (NCL) Adult Critical Care Network to ensure the study will not impact on the NHS’ ability to care for patients during the pandemic. The study will not begin without their go-ahead.


Vaccine candidates


Once this initial study has taken place, vaccine candidates, which have proven to be safe in clinical trials, could be given to small numbers of volunteers who are then exposed to the Covid-19 virus, helping to identify the most effective vaccines and accelerate their development.


Researchers are encouraging people aged between 18 and 30 years old, who are at the lowest risk of complications resulting from coronavirus, to volunteer for this vital study. Volunteers will be compensated for the time they spend in the study.