A group of researchers at St. Louis University are paying volunteers $3,500 to spend 12 days in a hotel and get exposed to the flu virus. The stay at the ‘flu hotel’ in St. Louis, Missouri, is designed to test the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
Participants will have catered meals and be administered a flu shot. A small group will be given a placebo instead of a flu shot. All volunteers will next be exposed to the most recent strain of the flu virus via a nasal spray.
Researchers will keep an eye on participants and look for flu symptoms like a runny nose, fever, coughing, or sneezing. Scientists will test volunteers’ blood and bodily fluids for traces of the virus.
St. Louis University invested $350,000 in the flu hotel, which contains two dozen rooms in a quarantined area at the Salus Center. The hotel is equipped with game tables and a library.
Researchers Seeking to Improve the Flu Vaccine
It was one of the rare instances that vaccines were tested for such a long time on people after participants had been exposed to the flu.
The university even has a Center for Vaccine Development that tests the shots. Dr. Daniel Hoft, who leads the center, noted that researchers “can learn a lot more, a lot faster” about the medicines when they manage to watch participants in a controlled environment.
The last flu season was one of the most severe in the recorded history. Missouri lost 279 residents to the flu while more than 134,000 contracted the disease. This is because the flu vaccine was just 10%-15% effective against the flu.
Prof. Stephanie Solomon Cargill said that the team doesn’t plan to expose people to a disease that has no cure. They will take extra precautions about “not harming [the guests] too much.”
Image Source: Wikimedia
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