Want to earn a quick buck? Well, these researchers are handing out $3,500 to anyone willing to catch the influenza on purpose.
The experiment will require all participants to stay at "Hotel Influenza" for 10 days, where they'll suffer bouts of diarrhea, high fever, body aches, and other flu symptoms — for science, of course.
The researchers hope that by deliberately exposing participants to the influenza virus after receiving either a flu vaccine or a placebo, they'll get a better shot at understanding the illness, especially how it responds to specific treatments.
Why Researchers Want People To Intentionally Catch The 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," said Saint Louis University's Daniel Hoft, director of the school's vaccine development center.
Volunteers will be required to stay in hotel-style quarters equipped with private bathrooms, TVs, and a Wi-Fi. The researchers will make observations about the participants, conduct blood and lung tests, and take nose swabs to determine if they're infected with the flu and see if they're shedding the virus, which means the virus is present in mucus and other bodily secretions, and thus passable to others. They won't be able to leave until they test negative for two days.
Aside from the $3,500 payout at the end of the study, participants will receive on-site care from nurses who will be tasked to monitor them as well. The facility features a number of amenities, including a common room and exercise equipment. It will be able to accommodate up to 24 participants, who'll be served catered meals in the dining room or kitchen area.
The Hope For A Universal Vaccine?
What the researchers ultimately hope to gain from the experiment is further knowledge toward a universal influenza vaccine, which is also currently one of the main priorities of the federal government. Current vaccines have only been engineered to protect against strains of flu health experts are able to predict each year. In this setup, new vaccines are needed yearly, and sometimes they won't work if the predictions turn out to be wrong. A universal vaccine can solve all of those problems.
In addition to finding a universal cure for the flu, Hoft thinks the hotel may be useful in developing treatments for other illnesses, such as respiratory syncytial virus, a lethal complication that can cause breathing problems and kill infants.
Think you're up for the challenge? Would you be willing to sacrifice 10 days of being sick in the name of science and, well, $3,500? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound them off in the comments section below!