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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The U.K. plans to intentionally infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus in the world's first "human challenge trial," the goal being to enhance understanding of the virus, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The effort is controversial, but the government says the study will help with developing new treatments and vaccines for the virus.

Details: The government-funded effort will, in the first stage, expose up to 90 young adults to the coronavirus "in a safe and controlled environment" to evaluate the amount of virus needed to cause infection.

  • The government hopes in later stages to quickly study vaccines and be able to compare them against one another.

What they're saying: Some experts question whether such a study is necessary, given the existence of highly-effective vaccines.

  • But others say that new vaccines will continue to be developed, and will need to be tested.
  • The human challenge trials could "give ourselves the potential to test new vaccines very quickly, and that’s really the primary purpose of this effort," Robert Read, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, told the Post.

Go deeper

Feb 17, 2021 - Health

U.S. administering average of 1.7 million vaccine doses per day

The seven-day average of coronavirus vaccines administered in the U.S. has reached 1.7 million per day, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said at a Wednesday briefing.

Why it matters: That pace puts President Biden on course for meeting his goal of 100 million doses administered in his first 100 days in office, which would land on April 29. 54 million vaccine shots have been administered thus far, and 5% of Americans have received both doses.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Health security to play big role in returning workforces

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Companies are focusing on health security for returning workforces.

Why it matters: It's becoming clear that the novel coronavirus will be with us in some form for months or even years, which means companies need to invest in tools that can manage the biological safety of their workplaces.

Feb 17, 2021 - Health

The government has seized 10 million fake N95 masks

Employees work as they make real respiratory masks in a family-owned medical equipment factory. Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. government has seized approximately 10 million counterfeit N95 masks designed to mimic those produced by global manufacturer 3M, AP reports.

Why it matters: The fake masks do not have the same standard of protection as actual N95 masks, which are needed for healthcare workers and others on the front lines of caring for others during the coronavirus pandemic.

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