Ever been at work and spent the day dreaming about bingeing on box sets, killing time online or playing computer games? Well, for some people that is work.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers get paid up to £3750 (about NZ$6654) for 10 to 14 days doing whatever they want, with just a few tiny caveats. First, they can't leave their small room for the whole time, second they'll have to undergo a few daily medical tests and finally they'll probably get sick.

With medical staff in futuristic-looking beekeeper's masks strolling in and out of individual rooms where young men and women play guitars, read books or watch TV, FluCamp's East London facility looks very much like a high-end private medical ward.

Sat on a bed in one of several rooms that stretch out either side of the nurse's station is Ed Griffin. The politics student, 19, is here to pay off an overdraft he built up travelling back home to Australia for his sister's wedding. He arrived three days ago and will earn about £3000 (NZ$5323) for a stay expected to last 10 days.

Inside the flu camp where people are paid to be infected. Photo / Supplied
Inside the flu camp where people are paid to be infected. Photo / Supplied

"I had some concerns about missing uni but not really about my health," he explains.

"There's a lot of money and it is just flu - I've had the flu once before and it didn't kill me so it didn't really worry me.

"Over the course of a month I probably spend 10 days doing nothing anyway, so it's just a case of condensing it in to one chunk. It's not too bad, I'm doing a little bit of work - probably not as much as I should - and playing the guitar."

Mr Griffin had yet to experience any symptoms and described the stay, which will see him earn more in 10 days than his part-time job scooping popcorn at a cinema nets him in a year.

For him, and the others involved in FluCamp's latest trial, the deal is simple. After an extensive screening process weeds out many of the applicants based on medical history, age, susceptibility to the strain of virus and a variety of other factors, a number of volunteers are selected for a trial - usually about a dozen.

Those lucky few will be injected with a virus, usually influenza or the common cold, through the nose and then medically monitored - some will show symptoms of the virus and some won't.

Nurses will take blood, measure temperature and generally check vital signs five or six times a day.

The rest of the time can be spent watching DVDs from FluCamp's library, using the free Wi-Fi or playing on the PlayStation 3 provided in each room. Patients can bring their own entertainment from home and get five meals a day but are not allowed visitors during their time at FluCamp.

They must also sacrifice privacy - the blinds in each room must always be partially open for observation purposes, so only the small ensuite bathroom is truly private.

The trials are approved and monitored by a number of regulatory bodies including the UK government's Ethics Committee and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the latter organisation also set the fees for participation based on a number of medical factors but not on personal risk. The results are then usually used as research for universities, medical facilities or pharmaceutical companies.

For Sam Pugh, 29 from Bristol, the opportunity seemed too good to be true.

"I was just kind of broke, I didn't have a grand scheme and, to be honest, my biggest motivation was the time away," he says. "Of course the money was good but there are certain things I want to focus on and I can do that here."

While he admits that some of his friends and family were a little baffled at the idea, he says he worked out a cunning way to win them round.

Sam Pugh was planning to spend his 10 days in the clinic learning to play the piano. Picture: Matt Pearson / Supplied
Sam Pugh was planning to spend his 10 days in the clinic learning to play the piano. Picture: Matt Pearson / Supplied

"Most are supportive - not in a way that they would have done it themselves but still ... A lot of people don't know what it is, so when I explain it I put my spin on it and I just say 'I'm just going to get the flu. But I'm getting a vaccine, it's probably going to work but I'm just human 2.0 and you're all going to have it in the future," he laughs before accepting that this makes him something of a flu hipster.

For many people the isolation of spending such a long time cooped up in a single en suite rooms with only nurses looking to prod and poke you for company would be as off-putting as the thought of getting sick in an unfamiliar confined space. But for Mr Pugh, solitary confinement itself was alluring.

"I'm teaching myself piano while I'm here because I want to leave with something new," he says. "I've been doing some online courses - I've done about 35 lessons so far and I'm getting pretty good."

His positivity is tempered only slightly by the first stirrings of illness that might put the brakes on his burgeoning musical talent.

While there are always risks in medical testing, FluCamps's trials are not "first in human", meaning the risk of any complications, while very real, is also relatively minor. The medical staff already know the effects of the viruses on humans and the screening process gets rids of those who might get seriously ill.

An MHRA spokesman said they have had no reports of patients with any unexpected symptoms from FluCamp but warned that there were always dangers when humans are involved in the testing process.

"Investigators need to be vigilant to identify- and be prepared to respond to any unexpected side effects, particularly in early phase studies where less is known about the product. Sponsors of clinical trials are required to report safety issues to the MHRA so we can monitor the emerging safety profile of the medicine and take action if necessary."

And for now, this latest batch of human guinea pigs seem entirely happy getting paid to feel sick. And with thousands more applications than spaces available, they won't be the last.