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Oxford seeks people willing to catch COVID for study

Researchers at the University of Oxford are seeking volunteers for a study in which participants will be infected with the original strain of COVID-19.

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Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver BC
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Researchers at the University of Oxford are seeking volunteers for a study in which participants will be infected with the original strain of COVID-19.

In April 2021, researchers at the University of Oxford began a trial to determine how the immune system responds to the COVID-19 virus. The first phase, which is still ongoing, seeks to establish the lowest dose that can infect, but not produce serious illness.

The second phase involves infecting participants with the standardized virus developed in the first, and it is for this part of the trial that researchers are seeking volunteers.

According to Oxford, the goal of the study is to "discover what happens when people who have either already had Covid-19 or who have been vaccinated are exposed to the original strain of virus" from Wuhan.

Vaccinology professor and chief investigator Helen McShane explained that participants will be deliberately exposed to the virus "under a very carefully controlled conditions."

Upon being infected, participants will be quarantined for a minimum 17 days in a "specially designed hospital suite," wherein they will undergo numerous medical tests.

Oxford emphasized that only individuals between 18-30 who have been deemed "completely fit and well" will be eligible to volunteer in order to minimize unnecessary risk.

Those who develop symptoms will receive Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment, and discharged only when they are not at risk of infecting others.

The study will last twelve months, and includes the initial infection period as well as at least five follow-up appointments.

"We have learned a lot about Covid over the past two years," McShane said, "but the emergence of new variants means that we will probably have to keep refining the vaccines. If we know what level of immune response we need the vaccine to induce it will make future vaccine development much quicker and much more efficient."

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