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Abstract WHO convened an Advisory Group (AG) to consider the feasibility, potential value, and limitations of establishing a closely-monitored challenge model of experimental severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in healthy adult volunteers. The AG included experts in design, establishment, and performance of challenges. This report summarizes issues that render a COVID-19 model daunting to establish (the potential of SARS-CoV-2 to cause severe/fatal illness, its high transmissibility, and lack of a “rescue treatment” to prevent progression from mild/moderate to severe clinical illness) and it proffers prudent strategies for stepwise model development, challenge virus selection, guidelines for manufacturing challenge doses, and ways to contain SARS-CoV-2 and prevent transmission to household/community contacts. A COVID-19 model could demonstrate protection against virus shedding and/or illness induced by prior SARS-CoV-2 challenge or vaccination. A limitation of the model is that vaccine efficacy in experimentally challenged healthy young adults cannot per se be extrapolated to predict efficacy in elderly/high-risk adults.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical Infectious Diseases


Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication Date





2035 - 2041