Britain researchers will conduct government-backed trials in which participants will be intentionally infected with a manufactured coronavirus to help speed the development of a possible vaccine.

The trials will receive an investment of 33.6 million pounds ($43.5 million) in the “human challenge,” Reuters reported. The trials are a partnership of the government and the Imperial College London, laboratory and trial services company hVIVO and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

If approved by government regulators and an ethics committee, the studies will start in January with results expected by May 2021, Reuters reported.

Using controlled doses of the virus, the purpose of the research team will initially be to discover the smallest amount of virus —manufactured in labs at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital — it takes to cause the coronavirus infection, Reuters reported. The test will be conducted on small groups of healthy people between ages 18 and 30 who are at the lowest risk of harm, the scientists leading the studies said in a briefing.

As of Tuesday, more than 40 million coronavirus cases, including 1.1 million deaths, have been reported globally, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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