‘Challenge study’ to infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus will begin in early 2021

Researchers in the U.K. will begin the first challenge study to deliberately expose volunteers to the novel coronavirus early next year, according to a statement. And the first participants in this trial will not receive an experimental vaccine before being exposed the virus.

In typical vaccine  trials, volunteers are given an experimental vaccine and then followed for months until a subset of them are naturally exposed to the virus. But by exposing every participant in a trial to SARS-CoV-2, challenge studies can shave months, if not years, off of the typical vaccine trial timeline. Such trials can be risky, as COVID-19 doesn’t have a cure if things go wrong, Live Science previously reported. Still, challenge studies aren’t new and they have been an important tool for learning more about diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. 

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