UK to begin world-first human trials to study COVID-19

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The UK is to begin the world’s first COVID-19 human trials to study the impact of the deadly virus on a healthy body’s immune system, after receiving the approval of the country’s clinical trials ethics body on Wednesday.

The initial study is intended to help scientists understand how the immune system reacts to the virus that causes COVID-19, and identify factors that influence how it is transmitted — including how a person who is infected “sheds” infectious virus particles into the environment.

The study will involve up to 90 “carefully selected” healthy adult volunteers being exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment. “Our eventual aim is to quickly test which vaccines and treatments work best in beating this disease,” said Chief Investigator Dr Chris Chiu, from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London.