Microscope being operated by a scientist

GOSH to support world’s first human challenge study for Covid vaccine

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH) is set to participate in a new study exploring the possibility of running the first human challenge study to find a vaccine for Covid-19.

As part of the UK Government’s strategic pandemic response, plans for the world’s first human challenge study in Covid-19 has been announced today by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is funding it through the Vaccines Taskforce.

Human challenge studies typically see participants – typically volunteers aged 18 to 30 – given a controlled dose of the pandemic virus, in what is the smallest amount which can cause Covid infection. They will then be monitored around the clock and can be used to test vaccines.

These studies are often a faster way of testing vaccines because researchers don’t have to wait for participants to become exposed to an illness naturally.

By choosing participants initially from a volunteer group aged 18 to 30 there is the least inherent risk to those taking part, with the volunteers’ young age and good health making them some of the lowest risk candidates.

The research into a potential human challenge study for Covid-19 will be delivered in partnership between Government, Imperial College London, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and industry-leading commercial partners.

As part of that industry partnership, GOSH will host the manufacturing of a batch of the Covid-19 virus in its brand-new facilities at the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children.

This would be the virus batch which would be used as part of the initial phase of the research, known as the virus characterisation study where the aim is to discover that smallest amount of virus it takes to cause a person to develop Covid-19.

The Zayed Centre for Research is the largest single academic manufacturing unit for gene and cell therapies in the UK and one of the largest in the world.

Mat Shaw, Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital said; “Never has research been more important than now.

“GOSH’s commitment to research coupled with the world-class facilities in our Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children mean that we can play our part in this important study.”

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