How much is a sick day worth to you? $3,310 sound good?
That’s what one team is doling out to volunteers who are willing to be infected with influenza viruses and then quarantined for least 10 days at Saint Louis University.
Those brave enough to take on the illness will receive a nasal spray with a strain of the flu, and then begin an inpatient stay at the Salus Center, according to the study’s news release. Volunteers must be healthy prior to the start of the study, and between the ages of 18 and 49. At the conclusion of the quarantine, volunteers will have to follow up at three more clinic visits and with a phone call.
The purpose of the study, which is estimated to last up to four months, is to follow volunteers and see what symptoms occur and when following infection. The concept, while certainly a talker, is not new for the university. Last year, researchers were hoping $3,500 would be enough to convince volunteers to come stay at “Hotel Influenza.”
“In a traditional flu study, we vaccinate people and see if their immune systems respond by creating antibodies that fight flu,” Daniel Hoft, director of Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development, said last year. “In a human challenge study, we vaccinate people, then deliberately challenge their bodies by exposing them to flu to see if they get sick.”
Hoft said the advantage for researchers is that they know the exact time of infection, rather than waiting for “nature to take its course.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal flu activity in the U.S. has increased slightly through Oct. 19, but still remains low. The first two pediatric flu deaths of the 2019-2020 season were reported recently, with health officials continuing to urge people to get the flu vaccine.