Brits to be given Covid in ‘human challenge trials’ starting next month

Up to 2,500 Brits have volunteered to be deliberately infected with coronavirus to speed up research of an experimental nasal vaccine, a report says.

The 18 to 30-year-olds will be given the bug in a "secure bio-containment suite" starting next month with the first results expected by May, the Times said.

It comes as new research published this week shows people who suffered a mild version of the disease enjoyed immunity which lasted at least four months.

One of the volunteers, who reportedly will be paid £4,000 in the "human challenge trials", told the Times: "If I die, better to die gloriously."

While Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, 18, of Stoke-on-Trent, previously told Radio 4 that he signed up for the trials to "bring the world out of the pandemic sooner" and save "thousands of lives".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said he had been told he was to be locked up in the clinic for at least a fortnight as researchers monitored his body's response.

He said: "I'll be remaining at the clinic, really, for as long as it takes.

"Obviously we can't have it infecting anyone who isn't a part of the trial, so every volunteer would need to be held in bio-containment."

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He added: "It was just something that made instant sense to me, really."

While 29-year-old Jennifer Wright told the paper she was "very sure that I would like to take a risk to help out".

"Some of my friends work for the NHS and they've been taking risks all through the pandemic while I've been looked after and stayed safe," she said.

The Government announced the project in October, stating the aim is to "discover the smallest amount of virus it takes to cause a person to develop Covid-19 infection", the Mirror reports.

It added: "This is known as a virus characterisation study and will be backed by £33.6 million of government investment."

Royal Free released research on December 23 which stated that Covid-19 immunity for those who had a mild version of the disease lasts at least four months.

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