AN IRISH firm is helping to carry out a health study in which people are intentionally exposed to Covid-19 - the first of its kind in the world.
Industry-leading clinical company hVIVO, a subsidiary of Dublin-based Open Orphan, is taking part in what is being called Covid-19 'human challenge' research.
The study will begin in the coming weeks, and will involve 90 carefully selected, healthy adult volunteers who will be deliberately exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment.
It's been approved by the UK's clinical trials ethics body and will be the first study in the world that has deliberately infected subjects with coronavirus.
The aim of the study is to allow doctors to gain a better understanding of Covid-19 and help support the pandemic response by aiding vaccine and treatment development.
Because safety of the subjects is of utmost importance, the variant of Covid-19 being used is the UK variant, which has been spreading around the UK and Ireland in recent weeks, because it's been shown to be of particularly low risk to young, healthy adults.
The patients will be looked after and monitored 24 hours a day.
People aged between 18 and 30 are being encouraged to volunteer and all subjects will be compensated for the time they spend in the study.
hVIVO chief scientific officer Dr Andrew Catchpole said Covid-19 'human challenge' studies have the potential to play a vital role in providing data and information that could firmly get the pandemic under control.
He said the model of the study can answer "a wide range of fundamental scientific questions that are not feasible wit traditional field trials, such as exactly what type of immunological response is required to confer protection from re-infection."