(HealthDay News) — The U.S. government should make immediate preparations for clinical trials in which volunteers are exposed to the new coronavirus to speed development of a vaccine, more than 100 top scientists say in a letter to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The scientists, including 15 Nobel laureates, said such “human challenge trials” were of “vast importance” in speeding up the testing of vaccines being developed worldwide, CNN reported.

“If challenge trials can safely and effectively speed the vaccine development process, there is a formidable presumption in favor of their use, which would require a very compelling ethical justification to overcome,” according to the letter sent to Francis Collins, M.D., director of the NIH. The scientists said preparations for human challenge trials should include “supporting safe and reliable production of the virus and any biocontainment facilities necessary to house participants.”

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The letter was also signed by more than 2,000 challenge trial volunteers, CNN reported.

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