The UK announced Wednesday that it will be the first country to run human challenge trials on COVID-19, a type of study that requires deliberately infecting healthy people with the potentially deadly virus.
The controversial study — the first of its kind on COVID — is geared toward understanding the virus, testing the effectiveness of current vaccines and accelerating development of newer vaccines, according to a UK government press release.
Proponents of the strategy say it's about saving lives by speeding up development of vaccines and understanding the virus. According to The New York Times, scientists and bioethicists say the risk of coronavirus "seriously sickening or killing young, healthy volunteers — the sort of people who would be infected — is low enough as to be outweighed by the possibility of saving tens of thousands of lives."
But critics of human challenge trials suggest that infecting healthy people with a potentially deadly virus, for which there is no cure, is unethical.