Scientists are working to create a vaccine to protect the public from the spread of an epidemic that shuts down the global economy and overloads hospitals with patients in many cities. In regular vaccine trials, Nature’s Ewen Calloway says, scientists provide thousands of people either a vaccine or a placebo and then go about tracking them as they go on with their lives to see if the disease was contracted by those who got the potential vaccine. To perform a ‘human challenge‘ experimentation study would be a faster choice, scientists argue in a provocative preprint published. This would require exposing about 100 healthy young people to the virus causing COVID-19 and monitoring them to see whether those who get the vaccine escape infection.
Expert, Eyal told Calloway, that the serious-sounding susceptibility of healthy volunteers to the virus brings less net risk than one would expect, after remembering that volunteers will be at low risk for the worst consequence of coronavirus by being stable, between the ages of 20 and 45, and getting excellent medical treatment. It might also be noticeably sharper for some to enter the research than to anticipate possible infection in the ‘human challenge‘ experimentation study and then continue to rely on the public health care system. The authors then suggest that managed human challenge trials, or volunteers intentionally willing themselves to be infected with coronavirus, may help save thousands of lives if not hundreds of thousands by speeding up vaccine process.