Young people who have previously had COVID-19 are to be deliberately exposed to the virus for a second time.
It’s all part of a new study that aims to monitor how their immune systems react.
The University of Oxford’s “human challenge” trial – which is being widely reported on this morning – also hopes to discover what dose of coronavirus (COVID-19) is needed to cause a reinfection, and what this may mean for developing protective immunity against the disease.
The decision to carry out the study comes after recent research has suggested that prior infection may not fully protect young people from COVID-19 in the future, with an observational study performed in the US indicating that 10% of participants ended up getting reinfected.
So, what does the study entail then?
As part of the trial, young people – between the ages of 18 to 30 – who have previously already been naturally infected with COVID-19, will be recruited and then re-exposed to the virus in a safe, controlled environment, all while being quarantined for 17 days and cared for by researchers at a hospital until they are no longer at risk of infecting others.
Once the trail is complete, participants will then receive just under £5,000 as payment.
The study will take phase in two phases.
The first phase – which will involve 64 healthy volunteers – aims to establish the lowest dose of virus which can take hold and start replicating, and once the dosing amount is established, it will be used to infect participants in the second phase of the study.
Regular check-ups in the year after reinfection will also help to establish the immune response generated by the virus, as well as contributing to the creation of better vaccines and a greater understanding of how long immunity lasts.
Professor Helen McShane, the chief investigator, said: “Challenge studies tell us things that other studies cannot because, unlike natural infection, they are tightly controlled.
“When we reinfect these participants, we will know exactly how their immune system has reacted to the first COVID infection, exactly when the second infection occurs, and exactly how much virus they got.
“As well as enhancing our basic understanding, this may help us to design tests that can accurately predict whether people are protected”.
The trial is expected to start in the summer.
Featured Image – Wikimedia Commons
Tameside police officers hailed ‘absolute heroes’ after saving the life of a seven-year-old girl
Two Tameside police officers have been hailed as “absolute heroes” after saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl.
It comes after emergency services were called to an address in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside earlier this week (29 November), and found a young girl who was struggling to breath and coughing up blood after choking on a sweet.
Police Constables Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell, from Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Tameside division, were first on the scene.
To the huge relief of the girl’s parents, who were said to be “understandably distressed” and concerned for her welfare, PC Kincaid jumped straight into action and was able to utilise his first aid training to full effect by going on to successfully dislodge the sweet from the youngster’s throat, and then helping to calm her down before the paramedics arrived.
Whilst PC Kincaid looked after the little girl, PC Blundell did “everything he could” to help the parents remain calm.
Paramedics then took over once they arrived, and the young girl was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Reflecting on the incident, and hailing his officers “absolute heroes”, Superintendent Mike Walsh, from GMP’s Tameside district, said: “PCs Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell acted without hesitation during the incident, and took control of the situation that they were faced with.
“They deserve every credit for staying calm under extreme pressure and for working together as a team and utilising their training to lifesaving effect, and I’m sure the girl’s parents and family will consider them to be absolute heroes.”
“We’re both glad that we were in the right place at the right time,” PC Kincaid added.
“I have a daughter the same age as the little girl who needed our help, and I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was when she started breathing normally and said she was okay after I had managed to dislodge the sweet.