Would you volunteer to be exposed to a deadly disease in the name of science? That’s what an astounding 26,937 people registered to do when researchers at Imperial College London put out a call for participants in a “challenge trial” to study COVID-19.
Clinical trials that intentionally expose healthy humans to disease have been conducted for decades, Priyanka Runwal reports. These carefully controlled experiments allow scientists to learn more about the pathogen in question and look for pathways toward developing treatments. Of course, there is risk involved, especially for diseases that don’t yet have proven therapies, which makes challenge trials controversial. To date, only two such trials are being conducted anywhere in the world for COVID-19, both in the U.K.
Proponents argue that challenge trials can speed up results, since researchers don’t have to deal with messy real-world data and require fewer participants to get meaningful results.
Between the two COVID-19 trials happening now, experts hope to figure out why some infected people remain asymptomatic and why breakthrough infections happen. One participant didn’t require persuasion. “In my mind, it was an immediate yes,” says Paul Zimmer-Harwood.
Desert carrier (and work hazard): Photographer Jody MacDonald took this image, perhaps ruefully. “On this trip to Sudan, I got kicked in the face by a camel,” MacDonald writes for our Instagram page. “I was lucky. There was lots of blood and a broken nose and camera, but otherwise I got away unscathed.” In the distance you can see the Meroë pyramids built by the Nubian kings and featured in this Nat Geo History article. The Meroë pyramids, like those in Egypt, were also built as tombs. The pyramids stood strong until the end of the 19th century, when an Italian explorer destroyed the tops of many pyramids while searching for hidden treasure. “Don't let the ornery camels dissuade you from exploring the magical area,” says MacDonald. “It's truly a special place.”
Sleep under the stars: Summer is here, and it’s a good time to get outdoors. More than 66 million people went camping in the U.S. last year 8.3 million for the first time, Nat Geo reports. Whether you’re new to camping out for the first time, or an old sport, we tell you where to go, what to take, what to eat, and how to stay safe. (Pictured above, campers at the base of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.)
This newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard, Heather Kim, Jen Tse, and Monica Williams. We’d love to hear your story suggestions and favorite camping sites. Write to email@example.com.
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