(WZTV) – 30,000 people across the globe have signed up to purposely be exposed to novel coronavirus in the hopes it will speed up development of a vaccine against COVID-19.
The announcement comes from 1 Day Sooner, a challenge trial advocacy group. Challenge trials -also referred to as challenge studies, involve the intentional infection of research participants in an effort to provide data on the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics.
Challenge trials have been used for influenza and other studies. While challenge trials for novel coronavirus have been debated over safety concerns, a paper published in the National Institute of Health's National Library of Medicine says the benefits outweigh the risks.
"Controlled human challenge trials of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates could accelerate the testing and potential rollout of efficacious vaccines. By replacing conventional phase 3 testing of vaccine candidates, such trials may subtract many months from the licensure process, making efficacious vaccines available more quickly," the paper states.
The researchers note the risks of giving a live virus to volunteers includes inducing severe disease and possibly even death. "However, we argue that such studies, by accelerating vaccine evaluation, could reduce the global burden of coronavirus-related mortality and morbidity," researchers say.
One way to make participants "net risk" acceptable is if participants comprise of healthy young adults. According to 1 Day Sooner, study participants would be isolated in highly controlled environments, under constant observation and receive excellent medical treatment. According to their estimates, speeding up a vaccine by 3 months could save over half-a-million lives.
The organization has also shared quotes from participants who have signed up for the challenge trial, each offering their willingness to help for the greater good. One quote -from a participant in Romania, explained it in a way many have expressed; "I just want this to be solved already."