Would You Sneeze For Science? Experts Offer Volunteers $3,000 To Get The Flu!

January 28, 2014  |  

Would you be willing to endure a high fever, sore throat, and aching joints for $3,000? Well, government scientists sure hope so! On a quest to enhance flu vaccinations, experts are recruiting brave volunteers to be their guinea pigs, ABC News reports.

As we’ve reported recently, this year’s flu season is starting to look a lot like 2012-2013’s influenza outbreak — an ailing year that caused workers to lose $8.5 million in wages due to sick days. Scientists admit that current flu vaccines are decent, but there is still plenty of room for progress. 

“Vaccines are working, but we could do better,” said Dr. Matthew Memoli of the National Institutes of Health, the lead investigator of the study that aims to infect up to 100 volunteers over the next year.

But if the flu is taking over the country — you might ask — why don’t experts just examine the patients who are already sick with the virus? Well this won’t allow investigators to analyze, at first exposure to the flu, how the immune system will react.

To ward off the possibility of spreading the virus, volunteers will be quarantined inside a “special isolation ward” for a little over a week. Their health will be closely tracked. Officials at the National Institutes of Health hospital assure us that they won’t be released back into the public until nasal tests confirm they’re no longer contagious.

The main focus of this study is to find out why our current flu vaccines are least effective in people over the age of 65. “How younger adults’ bodies fight flu may help scientists determine what the more vulnerable elderly are missing, clues to help develop more protective vaccines for everyone,” Memoli explained to ABC News.

Of course, this experiment requires a great deal of caution; thousands of people die from the flu each year. Memoli selected a dose that will induce mild to moderate flu symptoms. A masked and gloved Memoli has patients lie down for a minute while he squirts microscopic virus particles — diluted in salt water — through a syringe.

“It will taste salty. Some will drip down the back of your throat,” said Memoli. A patient who has already gone through with the procedure, a 26-year-old restaurant worker, reported a runny nose and achiness a few days later.

For $3,000, would you get the flu?

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