Volunteers in the UK could be paid £3,500 (about N1.4 million) to be infected with the coronavirus amid a global search for the disease’s vaccine.
Ever since the zoonotic disease broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan, over 3,500 deaths have been recorded globally with more than 100,000 cases confirmed across more than 60 countries.
But according to The Times UK, scientists in London are offering to pay up to 24 people at a time to get infected with a less harmful form of COVID-19 as part of a vaccine experiment.
The volunteers, who are to be infected with two strains of the disease that cause mild respiratory illness, will be regularly monitored by doctors in protective gear while in quarantine for two weeks.
John Oxford, a professor in virology at the Queen Mary University of London, stated that the participants will feel symptoms like a cough or cold, which would model those of COIVID-19.
Testing is expected to begin after Hvivo, the firm running the quarantine unit at the Queen Mary BioEnterprises Innovation Centre in Whitechapel, is permitted by a regulatory agency in the UK.
“If it works on our little virus, it is very likely to work in the real world,” Oxford was quoted to have said, adding that the volunteers will be screened to ensure they don’t already have antibodies.
Andrew Catchpole, Hvivo’s chief scientist, also spoke about the project, saying “we’ve actually all been exposed to many coronaviruses, which means we could have some underlying immunity to it.”
The researchers said the procedure will allow them to test the efficacy of new viruses and antiviral medications in a safe environment.
The project comes as the UK government had pledged £46 million for vaccine research, bringing its commitment to the cause up to £91 million.