Free World - September 14, 2021

In early March, Jacob Hopkins volunteered to let researchers insert droplets of …


In early March, Jacob Hopkins volunteered to let researchers insert droplets of the coronavirus into his nose. A few days later, the 23-year-old U.K. university student was shivering with a mild case of Covid-19 in a London hospital. He said he volunteered to help scientists understand the disease better—and, he hoped, to help end the pandemic sooner.⁠⁠
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As much of the world spent the past year taking vaccines and wearing masks to evade Covid-19, almost four dozen volunteers in the U.K. have been deliberately infected with the virus in clinical experiments.⁠⁠
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So-called human challenge studies—which intentionally expose healthy people to viruses and other pathogens to study illness, vaccines and treatments—aren’t new. Scientists globally have used them for decades to assess how infections and drugs behave from the moment they enter the body. But only the U.K. has pushed ahead with Covid-19 challenge trials to study a new, sometimes-deadly disease that still harbors many unknowns. ⁠⁠
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The trials have faced pushback from health advisers and researchers here and abroad. World Health Organization advisers and top U.S. officials have cast doubt over whether the potential benefits justify the risks. One big issue: the lack of a cure or proven lifesaving “rescue treatment” if a trial subject falls dangerously ill. Researchers and the U.K. government say there have been no serious safety problems so far. ⁠⁠
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Hopkins, who spent 19 days in quarantine and said he felt fully recuperated a month later, will ultimately be paid about £6,000, equivalent to $8,300, for his time, a year of follow-up tests and phone calls, and a parallel study he agreed to. ⁠⁠
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At the link in our bio, check the audio and visual diary he kept to detail his experience. ⁠⁠
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📷: @garethphillips_ for @wsjphotos



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