The University of Oxford in the UK has announced that it will conduct a experiment to understand how it is possible to reinfect with Coronavirus and what happens in the case of one second infection. The experiment, however, involves a controversial test: one human challenge trial (controlled human infection study). Some young volunteers already recovered from Covid will in fact come reinfettati and then isolated in the laboratory for at least 17 days, to see how their organism will react to the new contact with the virus. Participants will be volunteers in a low-risk age group, between 18 and 30 years, for which a reimbursement of expenses of 5,800 euros is foreseen.
The experiment will be developed in two phases. Initially, a maximum of 64 volunteers will be reinfected. Volunteers will receive, at least at the beginning, the original strain of the virus, that of Wuhan. In case they get sick, they will be treated immediately with monoclonal antibodies.
In the second phase, which will involve a different group of volunteers, other issues will be studied. “First, we will very carefully define the basic immune response in the volunteers, before infecting them,” he explained. Helen McShane, Oxford University professor and lead researcher on the study. “We will then infect them with the virus dose chosen from the first study and measure the amount of virus we can detect after infection. We will then be able to understand what kind of immune responses protect against reinfection ”.
“Secondly, we will measure the immune response at different times after infection so that we can understand which immune response is generated by the virus,” he added. The study will last a total of 12 months, including at least eight follow-up appointments after discharge.
The researchers aim to understand if the second time Covid hits more lightly because the immune system is already prepared. In the past, the human challenge trials were conducted with other types of viruses, especially mild. So far, due to the safety risks to the patients involved, only the UK has authorized these studies with the new Coronavirus, last February, with the scientific supervision of Imperial College.
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