Researchers prepare for human challenge trials of Covid-19 vaccine - (Financial Times via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), has asked a vaccines working group at the agency to "write a perspective on the scientific and practical considerations for a COVID-19 human challenge model," reported the Financial Times.

  • The group, which includes senior vaccine developers from universities and industry, will meet on May 11 to discuss the issue.

  • Paul Stoffels, chief scientist at Johnson & Johnson, said his company would consider using a human challenge trial for its COVID-19 vaccine development to speed up the process, if such a study were to be accepted by ethicists.

  • According to the news source, Johnson & Johnson has done human challenge trials with other vaccines, including for the common cold, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

  • However, Stoffels warned that deliberately infecting people was "very challenging" without a drug or antibody therapy to treat the disease, and "if the ethical committees, or the ethical world accepts that is do-able, we will join, but we are not counting on it at the moment."

  • The FDA stated that it is prepared to "work with those who are interested in conducting human challenge trials to help them evaluate [scientific, feasibility and ethical] issues," while the European Medicines Agency said "human challenge trials...could provide useful information to regulators."

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