The radical measure in the race for the vaccine caused an mixed reaction of the scientific community
The question about the intentional infection of volunteers for testing a coronavirus vaccine arose because the current incidence rate in the UK is too low for a full-fledged test of the drug in a short time. According to The Guardian, according to recent data, about 7% of the population were infected. Therefore, some researchers insist that health officials agree to implement an alternative measure to accelerate vaccine development.
“The level of infection in the UK is declining, and if the coronavirus behaves just like all respiratory diseases, then in the summer the incidence rate will decrease even more. People secreting the virus will not be enough to participate in vaccine trials, ”said The Guardian, Professor Lawrence Young of the Warwick University Medical School.
In early May, the World Health Organization released a document that formulated ethical guidelines for human trials of the COVID-19 vaccine. WHO allows the possibility of research on infected people as an emergency measure, subject to a number of critical conditions: voluntary participation, awareness of the possible consequences, etc. In addition, people with the least risk of a severe illness from 18 to 30 years old should participate in the trials. According to recent data, only 1% of patients in this age group needed hospitalization, and mortality was about 0.03%.
According to Lawrence Young, if the government approves tests on infected volunteers, only young healthy people under the age of 25 will participate in them. According to him, similar studies have already been conducted to test the effectiveness of influenza vaccines. The scientists also emphasized that before starting testing on infected volunteers, it is necessary to develop the most effective treatment for coronavirus in order to minimize risks for participants.
“Studies will be conducted in specialized institutions with careful monitoring and the ability to provide early diagnosis and supportive treatment for participants,” Young said.
The initiative to test vaccines on infected volunteers was supported by Jonathan Ives of the Center for Ethics in Medicine at Bristol University.
“It is about asking healthy people to jeopardize their health and well-being for the good of society. But this measure can accelerate vaccine development and save many lives. I think we can go for it, ”says Ives.
Meanwhile, the immunologist at Edinburgh University, the immunologist Eleanor Riley, categorically rejected this idea, stressing that now no one can guarantee that the most important conditions for this kind of test are met.
“First, the virus and its clinical behavior should be studied in detail. It also should not cause serious illness in healthy people, or researchers should have a highly effective drug to treat infection. None of these criteria meets COVID-19 today, ”the scientist said.