Intentional infections planned for vaccine testing

According to a report in London, people are being deliberately infected with the coronavirus for vaccine testing. Healthy adult volunteers will be exposed to coronavirus under controlled quarantine conditions in the new year after receiving a potential vaccine a few weeks earlier, the Financial Times (“FT”) writes, citing project participants.

One is working with partners to speed up the development of vaccines with the help of “Human Challenge” tests, confirmed a government spokesman for the dpa in London.

Ethical concerns
“Human Challenge Trials” have the advantage that the effectiveness of a vaccine can be determined immediately. In contrast, the usual procedure is to vaccinate often tens of thousands of people and then see if fewer people are infected naturally than in an unvaccinated control group.

However, “human challenge trials” are controversial among scientists. Some emphasize the great benefit that such studies could have for an entire society. Others express ethical concerns and point out the enormous health risks that infection with a pathogen such as SARS-CoV-2, which is still unexplored in many respects, could pose.

The project, led by London’s Imperial College, is expected to be officially presented next week and to start in January. According to the report, these are the first experiments of this kind worldwide.

— Hector Pascua with reports from ORF.at/agencies

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