It was reported this week that the United Kingdom is expected to become the first country to hold controversial “COVID-19 human challenge trials” by infecting participants with Sars-Cov-2 in a bid to test the effectiveness of its anti-coronavirus vaccine. The trials are expected to be launched next year.
Scientists advising the UK government have warned that the first vaccine against coronavirus is only likely to reduce symptoms of COVID-19 instead of being a “silver bullet” which provides lifelong immunity to people or prevents them from catching the disease, according to the Times.
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said that soon-to-be-unleashed jabs are only expected to have an efficiency rate between 40% to 60% – just like flu vaccines – and will be highly unlikely to completely stop people from getting infected with coronavirus.
This was reiterated by Charlie Weller, the head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust, who insisted that it is important “to manage everyone’s expectations on what these first frontrunners of vaccines can actually do,” as introduction of the vaccine should be still accompanied by other restrictions.
“There’s a lot of hope, understandably, resting on a vaccine that is going to be this wonderful one dose [that will give] full lifetime immunity and move us back to normality the next day, but it’s not going to be the perfect solution; it’s not going to be the silver bullet,” the scientist warned.
Vaccine Trials in the UK
Several anti-COVID-19 vaccines are currently being developed in the UK. Still, a third phase of trials carried out by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has recently been paused after a British participant developed a side effect linked to the inoculation. According to AstraZeneca’s recent revelation it was not the only case of illness among recruits. The company, which has now resumed trials in Britain but not in the United States, has promised that the new anti-coronavirus vaccine will have a 50% rate of effectiveness.
One government source reportedly told the Times that “it seems the most likely outcome in the short to medium term is to find a vaccine, or two doses of a vaccine, that reduces the severity of symptoms,” and it’s very likely that several different jabs might be needed to achieve the necessary result by developing human’s immunity to the virus.
Volunteers to Get ‘Deliberately’ Infected With Corona
The comments come as it was unveiled on Thursday that the UK will launch the world’s first government-funded “COVID-19 human challenge trials” in January.
During the study, volunteers are expected to get inoculated with an anti-coronavirus vaccine and then, in a few weeks’ time, get deliberately infected with Sars-Cov-2 to test the vaccine’s effectiveness. It is still unclear which vaccine will be tested, as AstraZeneca insisted that it is not the one taking part in the experiment which will be reportedly be carried out in a security quarantine facility located in London’s Whitechapel. The trial clinic is run by Queen Mary University-affiliated hVivo and participants are said to have been recruited through a US-based advocacy group, 1Day Sooner.
This type of trials have been commonly used in the past to develop effective preventive measures against the flu or malaria, but in terms of coronavirus the study might be deemed controversial by many, as options for curing those who have fallen seriously ill from COVID-19 still remain limited.