Britain is set to become the first country to deliberately infect its citizens with Covid-19 as part of new “human challenge” vaccine trials.
Experts from the NHS, academic and private sector will join forces with the UK government to launch the “ground-breaking” trials early next year.
Approximately 90 healthy adult volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 will be given the experimental new vaccine before they’re exposed to the coronavirus in a safe and controlled environment.
The participants will then be monitored 24 hours a day for any side effects to see how well the vaccine works.
Scientists around the world have been battling for months to develop a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19 which has killed more than a million people in less than a year.
Dr Chris Chiu, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London and lead researcher on the human challenge study, said: “Human challenge studies can increase our understanding of Covid-19 in unique ways and accelerate development of the many potential new Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.
“Our number one priority is the safety of the volunteers. My team has been safely running human challenge studies with other respiratory viruses for over 10 years.
“No study is completely risk free, but the Human Challenge Programme partners will be working hard to ensure we make the risks as low as we possibly can.