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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