A UNIVERSITY graduate is ready to put his health on the line to save others.

Jacob Hopkins, from Durham, has volunteered to be deliberately exposed to coronavirus to speed up vaccine development and help put an end to the pandemic.

It comes as UK regulators are considering whether or not to approve Covid-19 trials.

The 23-year-old is a prospective volunteer for a Covid-19 human challenge trial— a vaccine study planned by Imperial College London and the Vaccine Taskforce.

Mr Hopkins said: “I’m 23 years old, fit, healthy, and at a relatively low risk of suffering serious effects from Covid-19. In fact, the risk of death from Covid-19 for volunteers like myself is less than 1 in 10,000 — three times lower than if I were to donate a kidney.

SEE MORE: This is how much volunteers are being paid to be infected with Covid

“That’s not to say I think participating in the trial is without risk. For obvious reasons, there are ethical questions over deliberately infecting individuals with a deadly virus. Especially with young people, the debate around challenge trials centres around the possible long-term risks of the virus. We haven’t been with this virus long enough to be fully aware of any of the possible long-term health effects.

“Yet I’ve thought through these risks, acknowledging that they are uncertain, and I will gladly accept them by taking part in a challenge trial.”

The trial will see a vaccine candidate that has proven to be safe in initial trials given to a small number of carefully selected healthy adult volunteers who are then exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment.

Medics and scientists then closely monitor the effect on volunteers 24 hours per day to see exactly how the vaccine works and to identify any side effects.

Mr Hopkins said he has talked through concerns at length with his friends and family, and said he is lucky to have had their full support.

He said: “The chance to help millions of people around the world get a vaccine sooner makes me confident in my decision.

“The vast toll this pandemic has taken is devastating. With more doses of vaccine, we can vaccinate more people, meaning that we can save lives. Human challenge trials will help bring an end to this pandemic.

“Each day in this pandemic is another day full of needless death. Ending this even one day sooner would be undeniably worth it. I am ready to do my part.”

As with all clinical studies in the UK, the proposed research will be carefully considered by regulators including the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the NHS Health Research Authority through research ethics committees before any research starts.

Using controlled doses of virus, the aim of the research team  will initially be to discover the smallest amount of virus it takes to cause Covid-19 infection in small groups of healthy young people, aged between 18 and 30, who are at the lowest risk of harm.

Up to 90 volunteers, who are compensated for the time they spend in the study, could be involved at this stage.

If the coronavirus research is approved by regulators, results are expected by May of 2021.

The Government is putting £33.6m towards the work.