trial

Just 28 Positive Covid Test Results after Trial Events Involving Almost 60,000 People

A Government scientific adviser says that the European Championship finals can go ahead safely following results from 10 trial events which identified only 28 positive Covid test results among 58,000 participants. The Telegraph has the story.

Between mid-April and mid-May, the Government allowed a number of large gatherings to take place, including the World Snooker Championships, the Brits, the F.A. Cup Final, a 5k fun run and a club night in Liverpool. 

Participants had to test negative to be allowed in, and were asked to take a second test after the event to see if they had caught Covid there.

Results published on Friday show that there were no major outbreaks caused by any of the events and just 28 people tested positive in the days that followed. 

Asked whether it was safe to allow 60,000 people to meet for the European Championship final, Professor Tom Rodden, a Chief Scientific Adviser in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Certainly, those events can go on safely.”

The Events Research Programme was commissioned by the Prime Minister in February 2021 as part of the roadmap out of lockdown, and was designed to explore how reopening of events can be conducted safely whilst limiting the transmission of the virus.

The report found that prevalence within events was no different to that in the wider community, which they said was “reassuring”…

Experts said it was important that people were allowed back to mass events because it was important for mental health and social cohesion.

Professor Iain Buchan, the Chair of Public Health and Clinical Informatics at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is a really important social phenomenon, and the World Health Organisation’s founding principle was health as a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, or the absence of a virus.

“We have to consider society in the round.”

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, added: “The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to step four of the roadmap.”

Worth reading in full.

U.K. Trial Launched to Deliberately Infect People with Covid after They’ve Already Had It

Researchers at the University of Oxford have launched a trial that will deliberately expose people who have already had Covid to the coronavirus again to study the level of immune protection needed to prevent reinfection (assuming reinfection is possible). It is hoped that the study will aid the development of treatments and vaccines. The Guardian has the story.

The first human challenge trials for Covid began this year, with the study – a partnership led by researchers at Imperial College London among others – initially looking at the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection among people who have not had Covid before.

Now researchers at the University of Oxford have announced that they have gained research ethics approval for a new human challenge trial involving people who have previously had coronavirus. Recruitment is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.

“The point of this study is to determine what kind of immune response prevents reinfection,” said Helen McShane, a Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, and Chief Investigator on the study.

McShane said the team would measure the levels of various components of participants’ immune response – including T-cells and antibodies – and then track whether participants became reinfected when exposed to the virus.

Participants must be healthy, at low risk from Covid, aged between 18 and 30, and must have been infected with the coronavirus at least three months before joining the trial. As well as having previously had a positive Covid PCR test, they must also have antibodies to Covid. Given the timing criteria, McShane said it was likely most participants would have previously been infected with the original strain of the virus.

The first phase of the trial will initially involve 24 participants split into dose groups of three to eight people who will receive, via the nose, the original strain of coronavirus. The idea is to start with a very low dose and, if necessary, increase the dose – up to a point – between groups…

The second phase of the study – expected to start in the summer – will involve a new group of participants and will study closely their immune response before and after exposure to the virus, as well as the level of virus and symptoms in those who become reinfected.

The vaccines which produce the required level of immunity – as determined by this study – could have their licensing fast-tracked without trials of thousands of people, according to Professor McShane.

If we can determine the level of immune response above which an individual cannot be infected, then that will help us determine whether new vaccines will be effective without necessarily having to test them in phase three efficacy trials.

Worth reading in full.