On Monday, Researchers at the University of Oxford announced the launch of a human challenge trial to better understand what happens when people who have already contracted the coronavirus are infected for a second time.
Researchers will examine what kind of immune response could prevent people from becoming reinfected with Covid-19 and investigate how the immune system reacts to the virus a second time around.
At present, little is known about what happens to people who have already had the virus when they are infected for a second time.
The trial will take place in two phases, with different participants in each phase. The first phase is scheduled to get underway this month and the second phase is due to start in the summer.
In medical research, human challenge trials are controlled studies that involve deliberately exposing participants with a pathogen or a bug to study the effects.
“Challenge studies tell us things that other studies cannot because, unlike natural infection, they are tightly controlled,” said Helen McShane, chief investigator of the study and professor of vaccinology at the Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford.
“When we re-infect 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,” McShane said.