Instead, they are (controversially) suggesting that maybe instead of waiting around for people to get sick, what about deliberately infecting healthy individuals with COVID-19 to help speed up the development process? Yes, you read that right, researchers are indeed suggesting that this is what could be done to help develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
According to the paper by the researchers, the idea behind these so-called “challenge studies” is that because “far fewer participants need to be exposed to experimental vaccines in order to provide (preliminary) estimates of efficacy and safety,” which in turn can help make it faster to conduct vaccine trials than normal methods.
What’s interesting is that Moderna, one of the companies who are developing and testing vaccines, seems to be largely against this idea. According to Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, “I’m not sure I am a huge fan of it really for both practical and ethical reasons. As is often the case, the devil is in the details.”
What’s also interesting is that there seem to be quite a number of people who don’t mind taking part in these challenge trials. The foundation 1daysooner has launched a website where people can actually sign up to be part of such a trial if one were to ever occur, and to date there are about 14,000 volunteers across 102 countries.