UK study to expose young people to virus for second time
The immune response needed to protect people against reinfection with the coronavirus will be explored in a new human challenge trial, researchers have revealed.
Human challenge trials involve deliberately exposing healthy people to a disease-causing organism in a carefully controlled manner, and have proved valuable in understanding and tackling myriad conditions from malaria to tuberculosis and gonorrhoea.
The first human challenge trials for Covid began this year, with the study – a partnership led by researchers at Imperial College London among others – initially looking at the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection among people who have not had Covid before.
Now researchers at the University of Oxford have announced that they have gained research ethics approval for a new human challenge trial involving people who have previously had coronavirus. Recruitment is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.
“The point of this study is to determine what kind of immune response prevents reinfection,” said Helen McShane, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, and chief investigator on the study.
McShane said the team would measure the levels of various components of participants’ immune response – including T-cells and antibodies – and then track whether participants became reinfected when exposed to the virus: