BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Dozens of volunteers are signing up to get the flu–on purpose. It’s all part of an extreme government study.
As Gigi Barnett explains, the results could really help doctors.
Who’s next in line for the flu? At the National Institutes of Health, doctors have already infected dozens of volunteers with a live virus. The payoff: $3,000 and nine days in quarantine. NIH doctors monitor every sign and symptom.
“Three thousand dollars makes something infinitely more palatable. I’ve been to NIH before and the facilities and the living conditions there… it’s not exactly the Motel 6,” one man said.
The goal is to find out the steps the body takes to fight the disease, especially in younger patients with healthier immune systems.
“They’re trying to determine how early you can become contagious before showing symptoms,” said Dr. Waseem El-Halabi, Sinai ER physician.
He says the study’s results could drastically change the way doctors treat the flu.
“Depending on what information is garnered and what we can get from this particular study, we may be able to develop better anti-viral medications, we may be able to treat people quicker and just make people feel better as a whole,” El-Halabi said.
The flu kills thousands of Americans every year, so to ensure safety, doctors are only using a strain that causes mild to moderate symptoms and only healthy volunteers 50 and under can participate in the study.
So far, NIH doctors have studied one batch of 24 flu volunteers, and now they’re looking for a second round of patients.
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