Challenge trials: The volunteers offering to be infected with coronavirus
By Fergus Walsh, Medical editor
There are plenty who would, and indeed are campaigning to be allowed to take part in so-called “challenge trials” to try to accelerate development of a coronavirus vaccine.
Alastair Fraser-Urquhart is one of them. He’s 18 and has just received his A-level results. Initially he did not have the grades he needed to study cancer biomedicine at University College London, until the government U-turn.
Now he does, he’s thinking about taking a year out, in part to work with 1 Day Sooner, a group campaigning for Covid vaccine challenge trials.
“I’m in the lowest-risk category for Covid so why wouldn’t I make that choice and help save other people who would deal with it far worse than me,” he says.
A challenge study would involve volunteers being given a Covid vaccine and, a few weeks later, being infected with live coronavirus in order to test whether the jab has protected them. Those involved would be quarantined in a clinical research unit for two weeks and kept under close medical supervision to see if they get infected and develop symptoms.
So what do Alastair’s family think? “It’s fair to say they were not over the moon about it, but I haven’t faced any significant opposition. My dad was definitely not chuffed when I told him in June. Both my brothers are OK with it.”
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