How much would it take for you to allow someone to deliberately infect you with whooping cough? Not just for the hell of it, but for the sake of medical science.
Researchers at Southampton University are offering just over £3,500 to anybody willing to take up this challenge. It doesn’t sound very pleasant, but if you’re short on cash then it might be for you.
This isn’t all just some bizarre experiment with no actual meaning though. The research contributes to creating a better vaccine for babies, toddlers and vulnerable adults against the disease.
Certain conditions must be met to be eligible for the research. To be able to take part you must be between 18 and 45-years-old, in good health, and willing to live in an isolation unit for 17 days.
That throws me out of the question. Apart from the age thing, 17 days in a small isolation unit is enough to make me lose my mind.
Whooping cough – also known as pertussis – is a very infectious bacterial disease. It spreads through airborne spit or cough droplets. The University will still some pertussis bacteria up volunteers’ noses and then see how they fare over the 17 day period.
Some will obviously become ill from this, but it’s the ones that don’t get ill which they’re most interested in. Researchers are after the silent carriers of the disease that are naturally immune to the disease, despite them not being vaccinated. Gaining an understanding of this natural immunity would help towards designing an improved immunity.
Once these volunteers are infected, they’re taken straight to their isolation chambers. Everybody gets a private room with toilets, showers and a recreational area. All meals and drinks are provided, as well as some entertainment.
It won’t be too lonely, as it appears they will receive visitors and interaction with members of staff, but they must wear a mask at these times. Every now and then volunteers will also be asked to sit in a “cough box”, where they will be told to talk, cough and sing to make spit droplets in the air for researchers to sample. Lovely.
If you’re crazy enough to consider taking part in this study, simply drop an email to UHS.recruitmentCRF@nhs.net and inquire about it.