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Young people to be reinfected with Covid for study

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Oxford University to reinfect recovered Covid-19 patients to develop better vaccines

"This study has the potential to transform our understanding by providing high-quality data", said Shobana Balasingam, vaccines senior research advisor at Wellcome.

They will be infected with the original stain of SARS-CoV-2 from Wuhan, China, and will be followed for one year.

The researchers for the human challenge trial are looking for 64 healthy volunteers who were once infected with COVID-19. Additionally, the study will also determine how much virus, on average, it takes to infect someone who's had the virus earlier.

In the study the participants will be reinfected with the virus in a safe controlled environment.

A similar study is ongoing in the United Kingdom where volunteers are being infected with coronavirus to test vaccines and treatments.

The first stage of the trial will seek to establish the lowest dose of the coronavirus needed in order for it to start replicating in about 50 per cent of participants, while producing few to no symptoms.

"Challenge studies tell us things that other studies can not because, unlike natural infection, they are tightly controlled".

Once the dosing amount is established, it will be used to infect participants in the second phase of the study, which is expected to start in the summer.

This first-of-its-kind human challenge trial will examine what kind of immune response could prevent people from becoming reinfected with Covid-19 and investigate how the immune system reacts to the virus a second time around.

Then they will measure the immune response at several time points after being infected to understand the immune response of the body.

"A challenge study allows us to make these measurements very precisely because we know exactly when someone is infected".

"The information from this work will allow us to design better vaccines and treatments, and also to understand if people are protected after having Covid, and for how long", she added.
They will then be quarantined for 17 days and looked after by researchers at a hospital until they are free of infection.

Those who experience symptoms will be given a Regeneron monoclonal antibody injection, which includes laboratory-made antibodies that have been shown in clinical trials to minimize the risk of disease progression, according to the report.

While vaccines and previous infections provide some immune protection against the coronavirus, concerns and doubts remain about how long it lasts.

"Modelled on the success of the vaccines and therapeutics taskforces, which have played a crucial part in our response to the pandemic, we are now bringing together a new team that will supercharge the search for antiviral treatments and roll them out as soon as the autumn".

Within 12 months of the study's duration, the scientists will conduct at least eight follow-up check-ups after being discharged.

Critics of challenge trials have pointed out the ethical dangers of infecting people without being sure of its long-term consequences.

"There are still many unknowns surrounding this virus and human infections studies can enable us to learn a lot about Covid-19".

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