Tags: Coronavirus | vaccine | trial | covid | coronavirus | lawmakers

Lawmakers Lobby for Controversial Virus Vaccine Trial

Lawmakers Lobby for Controversial Virus Vaccine Trial
Healthcare workers in Western Australia are participating in a new trial to test whether an existing tuberculosis vaccine can help reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19. (Paul Kane/Getty)

By    |   Friday, 24 April 2020 09:11 AM

A controversial and potentially dangerous idea to speed up development of a coronavirus vaccine by intentionally infecting people with the disease is garnering support on Capitol Hill.

The Hill reported that 35 members of the House wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration to advocate for the vaccine trial that would involve hundreds of volunteers.

"Our situation in this pandemic is analogous to war, in which there is a long tradition of volunteers risking their health and lives on dangerous missions for which they understand the risks and are willing to do so in order to help save the lives of others," the letter reads.

Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and Donna Shalala, D-Fla., are spearheading the lobbying effort. Shalala served as secretary of Health and Human Services during all eight years of the Clinton administration.

The need for a vaccine is becoming more essential as several U.S. states start talking about loosening virus-related restrictions. Researchers have already begun vaccine trials on several volunteers.

The controversial trial would see study participants given either a placebo or a vaccine before they are intentionally infected with the virus. The volunteers would be young and healthy in order to keep their risk of developing severe symptoms to a minimum.

Two experts wrote in a recent Vaccine journal article that the idea has some merit because the trial could benefit the entire human race if it is successful.

"Deliberately causing disease in humans is normally abhorrent, but asking volunteers to take risks without pressure or coercion is not exploitation but benefitting from altruism," wrote vaccinologist Stanley Plotkin and bioethicist Arthur Caplan.

"We are aware of multiple offers from people willing to volunteer for the challenge studies. As Shakespeare put it, 'Desperate diseases by desperate measures are relieved.'"

One coronavirus vaccine trial began in March, while another — led by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — started earlier this month.

It generally takes 12-18 months before a vaccine is approved, but some experts have predicted there could be one ready for widespread use by the fall.

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A controversial and potentially dangerous idea to speed up development of a coronavirus vaccine by intentionally infecting people with the disease is garnering support on Capitol Hill.
vaccine, trial, covid, coronavirus, lawmakers
343
2020-11-24
Friday, 24 April 2020 09:11 AM
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