LONDON (AP) – Danica Marcos wants to be infected with COVID-19.
While others are wearing masks and stay home to ward off the disease, the 22-year-old Londoner has contracted the new coronovirus as part of a controversial study that hopes to trigger the development of a vaccine.
Marcos and other young volunteers say they want to participate to help end the epidemic after seeing havoc. Marcos’ best friend’s grandparents died early in the crisis, and as a homeless charity volunteer she has witnessed the struggles of those who have lost their jobs.
“So many people are struggling (right now), and I want this epidemic to end,” Marcos told the Associated Press. “Every day that is going on, more cases are going on, more people are dying. And if this vaccine test could mean that this round of trauma for the whole world will end soon, I want to help. I want to be a part of that. “
Imperial College London and a group of researchers said on Tuesday that they are preparing to infect 90 healthy young volunteers with the virus, first to announce plans to use the technology to study COVID-19 and possibly The end of an epidemic can help speed up the development of a vaccine.
This type of research, known as human challenge studies, is often used because some people question the ethics of infecting otherwise healthy individuals. But British researchers say the risk warrants because such studies help to quickly identify the most effective vaccines and control the disease that killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.
“Volunteers voluntarily infected with a known human pathogen are never taken lightly,” said study co-investigator Professor Peter Openshaw. “However, such studies are very informative about a disease, even one so well studied as COVID-19.”
Human challenge studies have been used to develop vaccines for diseases including typhoid, cholera, and malaria.
The study will involve volunteers aged 18 to 30, said Imperial College, which will be conducted in partnership with Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and hIVIVO, a company called Challenge Studies. Experience of conducting. The government plans to invest £ 33.6 million ($ 43.4 million) in research.
Governments around the world are financing efforts to develop a vaccine in the hope of ending the epidemic that has clouded the global economy, leaving millions out of work. Sixty-five potential vaccines are already in human trials, 11 of which are in late-stage trials – many are expected to report results later this year or early 2021.
Imperial College plans to begin work in January, with expected results from May. Before the commencement of any research, the study must be approved by ethics committees and regulators.
While one or more vaccines are likely to be approved first, studies are needed because the world may require multiple vaccines to protect various groups within the population, as well as treatment for those who are ill. Continue to live, dr. Said Michael Jacobs, a consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust who will participate in the research.
“I don’t think many people think what we’re doing as scientists are searching for a silver bullet,” said Jacobs. “We need a whole raft of interventions to control this epidemic.” Going to do
Critics of the challenge study question the need to expose the virus to healthy people when the disease is widespread and vaccine development is progressing quickly. Thousands of volunteers around the world have already signed up to participate in more traditional vaccine trials.
Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, 18, of Stoke-on-Trent in northwestern England, said he wants to participate in a challenge study because he is young and strong and can help advance vaccine research faster. He is taking a year off from school and working with 1Day Sooner, an organization formed to lobby on behalf of volunteers at the COVID-19 Challenge Trial earlier this year.
“I can’t give this opportunity to do something, to actually do something, pass me when I’m at such low risk. ..,” she said. “The idea that I could finally have a part to play, you know, the sorrow and pain of millions and not me – it just doesn’t sit well with me.”
In the first phase of the study, researchers will uncover paid volunteers for the virus using nasal drops in an effort to determine the smallest level of risk required to cause COVID-19. Finally, the same model will be used to test the effectiveness of potential vaccines after volunteers have been exposed to the virus when they receive candidate vaccines.
The research will be conducted at the Royal Free Hospital in London, with a field specifically designed to control the disease. Volunteers will be monitored for at least one year to ensure that they do not have any long-term effects.
Challenge studies are typically performed using vaccines against mild infections so that volunteers do not perform vaccine work to avoid severe illness. While coronovirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms in most people and seems particularly mild in young, healthy individuals, the long-term effects of the disease have not been well understood, and the gender and heart problems in the brain Has been told in Even in other organs that never feel ill.
In the US, the National Institutes of Health has challenged the need for challenge studies, given the speed with which vaccines are being developed, but has taken initial steps to prepare for such research, because Ultimately the approach is required. A challenge in those steps involves examining the ethics of the study, and funding research to build laboratory-grown virus strains that could potentially be used.
According to a September statement from the NIH, even if they are needed, “the human challenge test will not replace the Phase 3 trials.”
Estephania Hidalgo, 31, a potential volunteer from Bristol in southern England, said she is not worried about participating because the study will be conducted in a controlled environment and participants will be closely monitored.
Hidalgo, a student in Venezuela, wants to participate in minority communities because of the toll COVID – and because she believes science is the way out of the epidemic.
“I am a person of color, a woman. … “He said.” I also think it is important that there is a test, like, representation of everybody. So I just figure, why not me? ”
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