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Planned UK Clinical Trial to Expose Volunteers to COVID-19 Gets Ethics Approval, Gov't Says

© AP Photo / Oxford University Pool Screen grab taken from video issued by Britain's Oxford University, showing microbiologist Elisa Granato, being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK for a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University, England, Thursday April 23, 2020
Screen grab taken from video issued by Britain's Oxford University, showing microbiologist Elisa Granato, being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK for a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University, England, Thursday April 23, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A proposed clinical trial that will see UK volunteers deliberately exposed to COVID-19 as a means to develop new vaccines and therapeutics against the disease has gained ethical approval, the government said on Wednesday.

In a press release published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, ministers said that the study, which has received 33.6 million pounds ($46.6 million) in government investment, would be the first of its kind.

"These human challenge studies will take place here in the UK and will help accelerate scientists’ knowledge of how coronavirus affects people and could eventually further the rapid development of vaccines," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in the press release.

The study is currently recruiting up to 90 healthy adults aged 18 to 30 to take part in the trial, the government said. Volunteers will be monitored around the clock after they are given the lowest possible dose of SARS-CoV-2 to induce COVID-19, according to the press release.

A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.02.2021
UK Launches Trial Giving Volunteers Alternating Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

So-called human challenge studies have been used to develop treatments for diseases such as malaria and typhoid, and can help pharmaceutical companies establish which vaccine is likely to succeed in phase 3 clinical trials, the government said.

Experts from the National Health Service, academia, and the private sector are cooperating with the government to conduct the human challenge study.

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