Would YOU get paid to be infected with the flu? Researchers are offering $3,310 for people willing to get sick

  • Researchers from Saint Louis University in Missouri and three other universities are studying what happens when someone is infected with the flu
  • They are searching for 80 healthy participants between ages 18 and 49 to follow for four months
  • The adults will be infected with the H1N1 strain via nasal spray, stay at a clinic for 10 days, and then participate in three follow-ups and one phone call
  • For the study, participants will be paid $300 a day for the 10 days, $75 for the four clinic visits and $10 for the phone call, amounting to $3,310

Would you let someone pay you to deliberately infect you with the flu?

Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri – and three other universities – are hoping that the sum of $3,310 will do the trick.

The team is launching a study because it wants to understand what happens when someone is infected with the flu and ‘how the body controls the infection’, according to a news release.

It comes on the heels of the second pediatric flu death reported in the US as the new influenza season gets under swing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For the study, researchers are looking for 80 healthy participants between ages 18 and 49 who will be studied for four months.

The adults will be infected with a nasal spray of one of the seasonal flu strains H1N1 and stay at the Salus Center on campus for 10 days, for which they will be paid $300 per day.

During this time, researchers will take blood samples and nasal and throat swabs both before and after the participants are infected.

Flu symptoms, including fever, muscle aches and weakness, will be recorded every day for 14 days. 

After they leave the clinic, the participants will need to visit clinic three times – during which they’ll have blood and nasal wash samples taken – and answer one phone call from the researchers.

They will be paid $75 for the four required clinic visits and $10 for the one phone call.

Researchers will only be enrolling participants within a close distance from the study sites – roughly a 200 mile radius or so.

The study is being sponsored by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

‘NIAID investigators have been pioneers in contemporary human influenza challenge trials,’ said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID.   

‘These trials provide a powerful tool to study many aspects of influenza disease progression and also can help to efficiently assess new treatments and vaccine candidates.’        

The CDC recommends getting the vaccine either in the form of a shot or a nasal spray. For those who choose to go with the injectable, there are two options.

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The first is a trivalent vaccine, which protects against two influenza A strains, H1N1 and H3N2, and one influenza B strain.

The second option, the quadrivalent flu vaccine, protects against the same strains as the trivalent vaccine, as well as an extra influenza B virus.

However, pediatric influenza vaccines will be quadrivalent vaccines, according to the CDC.

Last year, for the first time in two years, the CDC updated its recommendations to include the nasal spray, known as FluMist.

The nasal spray uses live, weakened viruses which are meant to teach the body to recognize and ward off flu strains if you become infected.

The shot works similarly, but uses dead strains of the virus.

According to the CDC, children between six months old and eight years old should get two doses of the flu vaccine – with four weeks in between doses.

It’s particularly important that children receive the shot because they are more likely to suffer from flu complications.

During the 2018-19 season, 130 children died from influenza-associated illnesses, the CDC reports.

And during the record-shattering 2017-18 flu season, nearly 80,000 Americans died, 179 of which were children.



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