As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, it is clear an effective vaccine is urgently needed. With experts predicting 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is available, some scientists are considering unconventional ways to speed up the process. One highly debated method involves injecting healthy adults with live coronavirus. This strategy — called a challenge trial — would normally never be considered to test a deadly virus for which there is no effective cure, but these are extraordinary times. Vaccine trials are usually slow and cumbersome because researchers have to recruit thousands of patients and then wait for some of those people to be exposed to the virus naturally in their communities. In a challenge trial, healthy adult volunteers are divided into two groups. One group receives a placebo and the other receives the potential vaccine. After enough time has passed for the vaccine to cause the appropriate protective immune response, both groups are then injected with the virus, revealing whether or not the vaccine offers some level of protection. “If all that you care about are outcomes — how many people are exposed to the pathogen in question and then are either infected or protected by


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