For some it reads as the ultimate dream job: sit around for two weeks doing nothing and be paid around $4,500. Yep, even exercise is ruled out and if the thought of having to converse with people causes your lips to curl inwards to form a snarl, you don’t even have to do that – you’ll be in complete isolation. But as with all good things in life, there is a catch: in this instance, you have to be deliberately infected with coronavirus.
The job in question has been put forward by a Hvivo, a quarantine laboratory at Queen Mary BioEnterprises Innovation Centre in London. Just one of the many companies hoping to develop an injection to fight against the coronavirus, the lab sent a callout looking for 24 volunteers for a medical trial that aims to find a vaccine for the virus.
While still awaiting a green-light from UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, should Hvivo secure its volunteers then the trial will go ahead.
If you’re interested, this is how it will work: participants will be injected with two weaker strains of the coronavirus, 0C43 and 229E, allowing researchers to test out new vaccines and antiviral medications in a controlled environment. Over two weeks – the suggested length of quarantine – volunteers will be monitored by doctors and nurses in protective gear, who will also be their only source of human contact.
Fears of the coronavirus becoming a pandemic are mounting daily, and currently, the death toll from the virus stands at 3,800 worldwide with more than 110,000 confirmed cases of infection. It all sounds like the beginnings of a horror movie, something with Jordan Peele at the helm no doubt, but bar the elderly or those with respiratory problems, it’s not all doom and gloom. And as those at the UK lab advise, volunteers in the trial will likely experience mild symptoms of a cough or cold.
Andrew Catchpole, Hvivo’s chief scientist, said in an interview with The Times, “We’ve actually all been exposed to many coronaviruses, which means we could have some kind of underlying immunity to it.”
And should a vaccine be discovered that works on the volunteers, the scientists have every hope that it will work in the real world. So, if you’re keen for some R&R time with a side of virus, this might just be the job for you.