The 15 Nobel Laureates are among the prominent scientists calling on the UK government to support experiments in which healthy volunteers deliberately infect Covid-19 to accelerate vaccine development.
Experts wrote an open letter to Health Minister Matt Hancock, saying that the benefits of human challenge testing far outweigh the risks, following the guidelines of the World Health Organization that concluded that such testing is ethical as long as volunteers are young and healthy. We obtain informed consent, provide high-quality health care, and advocate thorough ethical and scientific review.
After selecting the appropriate strain and dose of the virus, the vaccinated volunteers are deliberately infected, resulting in potentially faster results than conventional vaccine field trials where researchers have to wait for the participant to become infected in the real world. These studies can also be used to compare the safety and effectiveness of multiple vaccine candidates.
Human challenge studies have long been successfully used, dating back to the end of the 18th century when British doctor Edward Jenner vaccinated a young boy with vaccinia virus and then exposed him to smallpox as part of an effort to create the world’s first vaccine. . . Since then, the method has also been used to develop vaccines against typhoid, cholera and malaria. However, some scientists have doubts about exposing volunteers to a virus that has no cure.
A letter signed by 178 scientists and scholars emphasized that the mortality rate of Covid-19 in healthy (and unhealthy) 20 to 29 years old is lower than that of living kidney donors, a relatively common procedure.
In the case of kidney donation, volunteers help one person, and Dr. Nir Eyal, professor of bioethics at Rutgers University, signed.
But if [human] Challenge trials can help us cut the epidemic by even one day. Thousands of lives, not to mention months, can be saved from death, serious illness, and financial ruin.
The Human Challenge study, funded by the UK government, could begin in January, the Financial Times reported, citing sources in September.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have experience conducting these challenge tests, said Abie Rohrig, director of communications at 1Day Sooner, a non-profit organization that advocates and issues letters for Covid-19 Challenge test volunteers.
I thought it was appropriate to write a letter to Hancock because I think the UK is far ahead of the US in terms of preparation for the challenge exam.
More than 2,500 British volunteers have joined the 1Day Sooner movement. The 1Day Sooner movement has supported Congress with Human Challenge exams and funded the Challenge Research Center to quarantine 100 to 200 volunteers. Worldwide, the organization has attracted more than 38,500 participants.
It’s very understandable if the government feels uncomfortable with the experiment where volunteers are exposed to potentially lethal viruses, Rohrig said.
However, we want to signal that with our volunteers, epidemiological, biological backgrounds, psychologists and philosophers believe the challenge test can be ethical.
These studies could prove worthwhile as public health measures invariably reduce transmission in developed countries, allowing vaccine developers to move test sites to developing countries.
I think the challenge test is simply an alternative to sending the test out to developing countries where the virus is getting more intense. Low-income countries will have a hard time containing the virus, Rohrig said because the trade-off of economic closures is greater. .
The idea that support is the only one going to developing countries in the first world has a dimension of post-colonialism, and I think the challenge trial is one way to avoid it while respecting the organizations of volunteers.
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