St. Louis, MO (WVUE) - A university is paying people $3,500 to get the flu and stay 10 days in what they have deemed 'Hotel Influenza."
For more information on the study, click here.
Saint Louis University is asking volunteers to to willingly expose themselves to the influenza virus after receiving either the flu vaccine or a placebo, in hopes that the results will lead to a better understanding of the illness, according to a news release on the university's website.
The facility, which the university is now calling 'Hotel Influenza," allows SLU to conduct human challenge influenza studies, which differ from the more common flu vaccine clinical trials historically done at SLU.
"Human challenge studies are a way to get a lot of information quicker, with a smaller number of volunteers and less cost than a traditional vaccine study," Hoft said in the statement."In a traditional flu study, we vaccinate people and see if their immune systems respond by creating antibodies that fight flu. In a human challenge study, we vaccinate people, then deliberately challenge their bodies by exposing them to flu to see if they get sick."
Volunteers are quarantined in SLU's challenge unit for about 10 days.
During that time, they are observed and have blood and lung tests and nose swabs to see if they are infected with flu and shedding the virus, which means the virus is present in mucus and other body secretions and can be transmitted to others.
They are not allowed to go home until tests show they are negative for infection for two days, according to the report
All of the volunteers will 'enjoy' an extended stay in Hotel Influenza.
The facility can accommodate as many as 24 study volunteers in hotel-style rooms that are equipped with private bathrooms, TV and internet.
Common areas with comfy chairs offer spaces to socialize, read or watch TV with picture-window views of the Arch. Catered meals are served in the dining room/kitchen area, and there is exercise equipment for a quick workout, according to the report.
"You know when they're exposed to the flu, so can plan exactly when to study it. You are not waiting for nature to take its course. If a challenge trial shows the vaccine protected a small group of volunteers against flu, you can be much more confident the vaccine is more likely to be worth the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to go through phase 3 development," Hoft said.
Volunteers for human challenge studies typically receive compensation of about $3,500 for their time and travel. Nurses are in the unit around the clock to monitor and care for them.