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October 20, 2020 at 5:17 AM EDT
Britain to infect healthy volunteers with coronavirus in vaccine challenge trials
By William Booth and Carolyn Y. Johnson
LONDON — British scientists said Tuesday they will launch the world’s first human challenge trials for covid-19, in which healthy volunteers will be deliberately infected with the coronavirus, in the hope of further speeding the way to a vaccine.
The research, led by scientists at Imperial College London and paid for by the British government, is a gutsy gambit, given that people will be submitting themselves to a deadly virus with no surefire treatment.
The United States is moving more cautiously, with leading government researchers saying human challenge trials might be too risky or unnecessary. But the British scientists say the potential payoff is massive — that accelerating vaccine development by even three months could save 100,000s of lives globally.