- Pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan had signed contract worth £3 million with Imperial College London to manufacture a SARS-CoV-2 challenge virus.

Challenge studies involve intentionally infecting individuals with a pathogen to test treatments or vaccines. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes Covid-19.

Open Orphan's hVIVO unit would develop a new SARS-CoV-2 challenge virus based on new emerging variants of the virus.

The would be used in future hVIVO-run human challenge trials to allow direct comparisons of vaccines or antivirals against different Covid-19 variants.

The manufacturing project would begin immediately and was expected to complete before the end of 2021.

Following completion of the manufacturing project there is the potential for a follow on characterisation study, Open Orphan said.

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