Researchers in the United Kingdom plan to begin intentionally infecting a small batch of healthy young people with the novel coronavirus in January as part of a first “human challenge trial,” according to an announcement Monday.
The plan has not yet been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates clinical trials in the UK, and outside experts have had mixed reactions to the announcement so far.
Nevertheless, the UK government is planning to invest $43.4 million (33.6 million pounds) in the trials. Researchers meanwhile are preparing to recruit an initial 30 to 50 people, aged 18 to 30, who have no underlying health conditions. Those conditions include diabetes, heart disease, or obesity, all of which would put them at greater risk of the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19.