DECRYPTION – The University of Oxford announced on Monday that healthy young volunteers will be deliberately exposed a second time to Covid-19 in order to better understand the reaction of the immune system of a cured person.
Maxence GEVIN –
A new study to see more clearly. Healthy volunteers aged 18 to 30 will be deliberately exposed a second time to Covid-19 in order to determine how the immune system reacts in a person who has recovered from the virus, the University of Oxford. Scientists will initially use the original strain of the coronavirus, the one developed in Wuhan, but discussions are underway to include some of the new variants.
Their objective is to determine the dose of virus necessary to re-infect a person and to observe the reaction of the organism if necessary. “When we re-infect these participants, we will know exactly how their immune system responded to the first Covid infection, when the second infection occurred, and exactly how much virus they received.”, details professor of vaccinology Helen McShane, responsible for these tests.
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According to the Oxford researcher, this type of study, where patients are voluntarily exposed to a virus, “teach us things that others cannot, because they are tightly controlled”. “The information from this work will help design better vaccines and treatments, but also understand if people are protected after having Covid, and for how long”, she adds.
64 volunteers closely monitored
As for the volunteers in this study, they will, in its first phase, number 64. Paid around 5,000 pounds each (5812 euros), these individuals and their health will be carefully monitored by a team of researchers. After being exposed to the virus, they will be quarantined for 17 days and taken to a hospital until they are no longer at risk of infecting others.
If they develop symptoms, the team of scientists will administer a treatment based on monoclonal antibodies developed by the American laboratory Regeneron.
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Programs of voluntary exposure to a virus have played a key role in the development of treatments against diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera and influenza.
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