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Here’s Why Researchers Want to Pay People to Get the Flu

Would you contract the flu for $3,300? This is the amount that researchers at the National Institutes of Health are paying volunteers who agree to be infected with the influenza virus, to understand the effects of the illness better, and to create more efficient vaccines.

The testing will take place at four clinics, the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Duke University in North Carolina, Saint Louis University in Missouri, and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio. It is reported that 80 healthy adult volunteers, aged between 18 and 50, would participate in the study and be closely monitored for a minimum 10-day in-patient stay, National Institutes of Health reports. These volunteers will be deliberately infected with the influenza virus by inhaling a nasal spray containing Influenza A (the H1N1 virus). The strain should produce mild to moderate symptoms of the illness in most recipients.

The National Institutes of Health states that one of the aims of this virus challenge is to “assess how levels of pre-existing influenza antibodies impact the timing, magnitude, and duration of a volunteer’s flu symptoms following exposure to influenza virus.”

Participants are required to give blood samples and have nasal and throat swabs, which will be used to "trace the initiation, size, and duration of various immune system responses, and to detect virus shedding,” National Institutes of Health notes. During two weeks, the staff will monitor the severity of the patients' symptoms and how the flu affects their bodies. The participants are required to undergo a follow-up examination 90-days later and will once again give blood and nasal swabs.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that from Oct. 1, 2019, through Nov. 30, 2019, there have been 1.7 to 2.5 million flu illnesses, and between 910 to 2,400 flu deaths. Flu can be deadly, which is why it is so vital to understand how to treat it.

The preliminary trial results are expected as early as May 2020.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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