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UK launches first human challenge trial for Covid-19

The world’s first human challenge trial for the coronavirus will launch in January in the United Kingdom, spearheaded by established challenge trial company hVivo, a subsidiary of Irish pharmaceutical company Open Orphan. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani weighs in.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JULIE HYMAN: News on the coronavirus front. The first human challenge trial for COVID-19 is set to begin in the UK. Anjalee Khemlani is joining us now. I think first of all, we need to set the scene. What is a human challenge trial? And then why is this development significant because of that?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Very good question, Julie. It is a very complex topic. So human challenge trials are when you intentionally infect a young healthy, typically, individual with the virus or the disease, and then use that individual to then test a drug or a vaccine. As of right now, there's sort of a plus and minus to this human challenge trial that's happening in the UK.

So number one, the company is working with the UK government in order to do this, starting in January. And that company is HVIVO. It's an arm of an Irish pharmaceutical company. So what's happening right now, is that they're hoping to launch this. There has been some support for this idea in the UK. Volunteers petitioning and advocating for a trial like this to happen. And so what will happen is, that these individuals are going to be first tested to see what is an acceptable dose of the virus where symptoms start to show.

On the flip side, you have some critics who are concerned about specifically COVID, because as we know and as we've been talking about, there is no solid treatment for it just yet, though there have been uses of remdesivir, dexamethasone, et cetera. So that's sort of setting it up on sort of what we're facing right now. I mean, could be something that potentially vaccine companies could partner with them in order to test their candidates.

JULIE HYMAN: Gotcha. Interesting stuff. Thank you so much, Anjalee.