Oxford researchers plan a Covid-19 reinfection human challenge trial

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SCIENTISTS are planning a trial that will determine whether or not people who have had Covid-19 are now immune to the virus that causes it.

Experts still have a lot to learn about the likelihood that people who have had Covid-19 can contract SARS-CoV-2 again.

Scientists at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom have announced a human challenge trial to gather hard, precise data that will provide a better understanding of how reinfection works.

Under carefully controlled conditions and for research purposes, scientists will reinfect the participants in the study with the original SARS-CoV-2 variant.

One of the things that experts still do not know much about is what happens when people who have recovered from Covid-19 have exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus again.

Scientists at the University of Oxford have announced a human challenge trial that will investigate the response of the human immune system to a second SARS-CoV-2 infection.

According to Shobana Balasingam, the vaccines senior research advisor at the Wellcome Trust — which is the organization funding the trial — “There are still many unknowns surrounding this virus, and human infections studies can enable us to learn a lot about Covid-19.”

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“This study has the potential to transform our understanding by providing high quality data on how our immune system responds to a second infection with this virus.”

The trial has two phases, the first of which begins this month. The second phase is expected to begin this summer.

Helen McShane, a professor of vaccinology at the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Oxford, is the study’s chief investigator.

She explains the value of challenge studies, saying, “Challenge studies tell us things that other studies cannot because, unlike natural infection, they are tightly controlled.”

“When we reinfect these participants, we will know exactly how their immune system has reacted to the first Covid infection, exactly when the second infection occurs, and exactly how much virus they got.”

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