Miami Beach. The Caribbean. Cabo. All of these vacation spots may sound appealing, but they can cost thousands. Why not plan a getaway where your hotel not only pays your travel expenses but also gives you a little extra just for coming?
Thanks to St. Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development, now you can. The only catch? You’ll be purposely exposed to influenza. And most sightseeing is out, since you’ll be quarantined.
As Forbes reports, the university just announced that it has converted part of its on-campus hotel into a research hub for flu. “Guests” of “Hotel Influenza” will be paid volunteers in a human challenge study that aims to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines. Rather than follow subjects in the real world who may or may not contract the virus, the center will make sure of it, exposing occupants to germs and then evaluating their response. Researchers are offering $3500 to cover each volunteer's travel expenses, leaving the rest as compensation for marinating in their own snot.
That exposure doesn’t necessarily guarantee they’ll experience flu symptoms. If a guest happens to have been treated with a working vaccine rather than a placebo, they might not get sick, and can pass away the time in the center’s modest quarters, which include catered meals and a common room with a television. If they do fall ill, 24-hour medical care will keep their discomfort to a minimum. Owing to the risk of transmission, they won’t be allowed to leave until they stop shedding the virus. The typical duration of stay is about 10 days.
The center is hoping this kind of targeted research will help improve seasonal flu vaccines with a long-term goal of developing a universal vaccination that can cover multiple strains of flu. Organizers expect a pilot study will be up and running within the next six months.
There will only be 24 slots available, so be sure to book early.