Leiden study to infect young adults with Covid to gain insight into immune response
A new study proposed by Leiden University Medical Center researcher Meta Roestenberg could see a group of young adults intentionally infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to develop a better understanding of how the body's immune system responds to the infection. The subjects will be kept in strict isolation and will be monitored by doctors and psychologists, she told broadcaster Omroep West.
'We will focus on people between the ages of 18 and 30 who often contract infections, but sometimes do not even notice. We want to know what differences there are between those people," she said. If successful, the study could help better predict how the infection develops into worse cases of Covid-19 in some people.
That could allow governments to take a more nuanced approach to social restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus, she said.
The study has not yet been approved by an ethics review and its funding has not been finalized. "As a doctor, it feels contradictory to give healthy people a virus," she said. "The chance that a healthy person between the ages of 18 and 30 will be hospitalized is 1 in a thousand. That is small, but not zero."
She said that the LUMC is trying to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks. Similar studies involving malaria and parasitic infections have been carried out by the LUMC in the past.
"We do this to be able to develop new vaccines and medicines. There are still a lot of things we don't know about the diseases we infect humans with, things we can figure out if we can track an infected person," she said.