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UK Closer To 'human Problem' Trials Of Potential COVID-19 Vaccines That Infect Volunteers

Preliminary work for trials, which aims to determine the efficacy of a vaccine candidate is being carried out by UK's Open Orphan plc (ORPH) hVIVO.


On October 15, the UK’s biotech agency announced that its “Human problem” trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines could become a reality where volunteers are deliberately infected with SARS-CoV-2 as the pharmaceutical firm signed a contract with the UK's government to procure the strains of the virus. Preliminary work for the trials, which aims to determine the efficacy of a vaccine candidate is being carried out by a unit of pharmaceutical service company Open Orphan plc (ORPH) hVIVO.

The model development involves the manufacture of the challenge virus and the first-in-human characterization study for this virus, the CRO pharmaceutical services company said in a release. It further informed that the company will shortly begin the human challenge clinical trials as a new £4.3 million contract has been signed and is in a pipeline to conduct a human viral challenge study utilizing one of the 8 traditional challenge study models for the top10 vaccine companies.  The trial would be conducted at the company's dedicated human viral challenge quarantine unit in London. Further, the company informed that the volunteers will be recruited through hVIVO's volunteer recruitment website,, and will participate in trials conducted by the hVIVO unit in Europe's 24-bedroom quarantine clinic. 

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“We are focused on continuing to deliver large and profitable contracts which demonstrate hVIVO's position as the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials,” Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman, Open Orphan said in the press release.

Under scrutiny of trained scientists

Friel, Open Orphan's chairman said that the company aligned its goal when it acquired hVIVO in January 2020. The process will involve testing potential vaccines on tens of thousands of volunteers to figure out whether the vaccines lead to the contraction of the disease or participants are protected from it. In a controlled environment, the participants will be monitored a month later, after they are safely isolated in a quarantine facility. The trials will be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Britain, and will be conducted "under the scrutiny of highly trained scientists and medics”, hVIVO said in a statement.

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(Image Credit: PTI)

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