Britain’s approval of the “human challenge test” for intentional infection with the new coronavirus has caused controversy

On February 17 local time, the British government announced a highly controversial new coronavirus test: let healthy volunteers who voluntarily sign up to be infected with the new coronavirus on purpose, so as to “deeply study the process of the new coronavirus affecting the human body”.
According to Reuters, the Guardian reported on the 17th that the trial was conducted by the UK government’s vaccine task force, Imperial College of technology, hvivo, a medical laboratory company, and other institutions. It has been approved by the ethics agency of clinical trials, and will recruit 90 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 30 who have not been infected with the new coronavirus. The trial is expected to start in the next few weeks.
The British government has provided 33.6 million pounds for the trial, and the UK has become the first country in the world to approve the so-called human challenge test of the new coronavirus.
Screenshot of Reuters report
Chris Chiu, the study’s lead researcher and expert at Imperial College, said the study would be conducted in a “safe and controllable environment” and volunteers would be exposed to a small number of virus samples that began to spread in the UK in March last year. The trial does not use samples of the mutated virus, thus “minimizing the risk.”.
According to Qiu, the goal of the trial is “to understand how the virus infects humans and how it spreads so successfully among people.”. Based on the “challenge model” obtained from this trial, they will also consider conducting further trials in the coming months or years “to determine which vaccine and treatment is the most effective”.
British media said that all volunteers participating in the human trial will receive a subsidy of 4500 a year and a one-year follow-up test.
The announcement of the human trial immediately sparked controversy. Some supporters insist that trials “help” vaccine development, such as Robert read, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, who claims that “human challenge trials” can “quickly test new vaccines.”.
Critics have questioned the safety and effectiveness of the test. They worry that exposure to the new coronavirus itself is a very risky behavior, and that the young, healthy group of subjects is not enough to represent the broader population.
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The New York Times pointed out that although the scientific community used to expose volunteers to pathogens of typhoid, cholera and other diseases to test vaccines in the past, there are cures for these diseases, and there is no known treatment for the new coronavirus at present. The British scientists in charge of this research have obviously stepped into the unknown ethical field.
Ian Jones, a professor of Virology at the University of reading, believes that the study, which only covers people aged 18 to 30, is likely to have some limitations: “this will be a limited study. By definition, you can say that this study doesn’t cover the people who need to be studied the most
In May 2020, the World Health Organization issued guidelines for such trials. Who pointed out that the intentional infection test is ethically acceptable under certain conditions, but it must be carefully designed and conducted to minimize the harm to volunteers; when it involves high risk, high uncertainty and the importance of public trust in the research, the test should be conducted with higher standards.
Who document screenshot
Who stressed in the document that “human challenge trials” involving new coronavirus should be carried out with the highest scientific, clinical and ethical standards, must follow the scientific basis, consult the public, experts and decision makers, strictly ensure the informed and consent of participants, be reviewed by an independent committee, and ensure that the risks of participants are minimized.
Novel coronavirus pneumonia was diagnosed in 4071185 cases at 0 hours local time 18, and 118933 cases died within 28 days after diagnosis, according to the data released by the British government website.

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