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Thousands Volunteer to Be Infected With Coronavirus to Help Find Vaccine

Jennifer Haller was the first American human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine
Jennifer Haller was the first American human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 02 July 2020 04:13 PM

Over 16,000 people, many of whom are young adults, have signed up to be guinea pigs in the name of science. They flooded the 1 Day Sooner website to volunteer for human challenge clinical trials that might hopefully find a vaccine to eradicate the coronavirus.

According to Radio.com, the volunteers agreed to become infected with the virus by checking off a box next to the statement, "I am interested in being exposed to the coronavirus to speed up vaccine development."

The idea is the volunteers would have the test vaccines administered and then be exposed to the virus via syringe, cocktail, or nasal spray. On the plus side, this approach can save months of testing through normal channels. On the other hand, exposing healthy individuals to the potentially lethal virus does have its drawbacks.

According to CNN, Nir Eyal, a bioethicist from Rutgers, said the idea is not as risky as it appears.

"It's an idea that is controversial when people hear about it for the first time," he said. "However, we show that if you select people in the right way and conduct the trial in the right way, it's surprisingly low risk and certainly within the bounds of what we already approve."

Right now, those who expressed interest on the 1 Day Sooner website have just expressed interest in the project and have not entered into a binding contract, according to CNN. If the researchers decide to move forward, the volunteers would have to fill out pre-qualification questionnaires that would include medical history, region of residence, and other pertinent information.

Dr. Robert Read, an infectious disease expert in the U.K., who has conducted human challenge trials himself, cast a shadow over the project. He said given the capricious nature of the coronavirus, researchers cannot give the volunteers an accurate picture of the risks involved.

"You do have to be able to describe what you know will happen to them if they undertake a controlled infection, with complete clarity and honest," he said, according to CNN. "And I think lots of volunteers, when faced with this information, would probably not consent to it."

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Over 16,000 people, many of whom are young adults, have signed up to be guinea pigs in the name of science, flooding the 1 Day Sooner website to volunteer for human challenge clinical trials that might hopefully find a vaccine to eradicate the coronavirus.
trials, human, volunteers, pandemic, clinical, challenge
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2020-13-02
Thursday, 02 July 2020 04:13 PM
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