A recent article published in The Washington Post reported that “Beginning in January, British researchers will infect fewer than 100 healthy young adults with the novel coronavirus to determine how much virus is necessary to spark an active infection. The researchers hope to enlist more volunteers in the spring to be inoculated with vaccine candidates and then exposed to the virus. The vaccines in question have yet to be selected.” The project is led by Imperial College London and funded by the British government.
Vaccine volunteers’ unnecessary exposure
Trials in humans have a large history with different results. But in this particular case, the risks are increased because the COVID 19 has no surefire treatment and could cause long-term severe effects.
Should Governments approve and found research like this?
The aforementioned article says “The United States is moving more cautiously, with leading government researchers saying human challenge trials might be too risky or unnecessary but Britain scientist defends their project arguing “[…] the potential payoff is massive — that accelerating vaccine development by even three months could save hundreds of thousands of lives globally.”. From a bioethical point of view, it is an unacceptable argument to justify vaccine volunteers’ unnecessary exposure. When it comes to human life, the ends do not justify the means, and even less so when the ends are uncertain: both, the vaccines unknown effects and the risk of the coronavirus disease.