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Solving COVID

Study that will infect healthy volunteers with COVID-19 receives ethics approval

The first COVID-19 human challenge study has been given approval to begin in the U.K.

Healthy volunteers are set to be deliberately infected with the coronavirus as part of a study that the British government announced Wednesday has received ethics approval, The Washington Post and BBC News report.

During this trial, up to 90 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 will be exposed to COVID-19 "in a safe and controlled environment" in order to "increase understanding of how the virus affects people" and establish the "smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection," British government said. These volunteers will quarantine at a hospital, and medics and scientists will be on hand 24 hours a day.

"COVID-19 Human Challenge studies have the potential to play an important role in providing data and information that will help continue to develop vaccines to control the pandemic," hVIVO Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Andrew Catchpole said.

The volunteers will be paid up to £4,500, and they'll be able to return home after a 17-day period, though they'll continue receiving follow-up checks over the course a year, according to the Evening Standard. Remdesivir will be given to those who become ill, the Evening Standard also reports.

Following this initial study, the British government said, COVID-19 vaccine candidates may be given to volunteers before they're exposed to the virus in order to help "identify the most effective vaccines and accelerate their development." The study is a partnership between the government's Vaccines Taskforce, Imperial College London, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and  hVIVO. It's set to begin in the next few weeks.