UK Scientists Launch Human Challenge Trial to Study Covid Re
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Researchers at the University of Oxford announced the launch of a human challenge trial to better understand what happens when people who have already contracted the coronavirus are infected for a second time. They 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.

The trial will take place in two phases, with different participants in each phase. The first phase is scheduled to get underway this month and the second phase is due to start in the summer. It is hoped the study will help to improve scientists’ basic understanding of the virus and help to design tests that can reliably predict whether people are protected.

What happens in each phase?

For phase one, up to 64 volunteers aged between 18 to 30-years-old who have previously been naturally infected will be re-exposed to the virus in controlled conditions. Researchers will oversee the care of the participants as they undergo CT scans of the lungs and MRI scans of the heart while isolating in a specially designed suite for a minimum of 17 days.

All of those who take part are required to be fit and well and must have completely recovered from their first infection of Covid to minimize risk. The trial participants will only be discharged from the quarantine unit when they are no longer infected and at risk of spreading the disease.

The second phase of the trial will explore two different areas. First, the team will define very carefully the baseline immune response in the volunteers, before we infect them. They will then infect them with the dose of virus chosen from the first study and measure how much virus we can detect after infection.

Second, they will measure the immune response at several time points after infection so they can understand what immune response is generated by the virus. The full length of the study will be 12 months, including a minimum of eight follow-up appointments after being discharged.

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