The Case for Human COVID-19 Challenge Trials
Regulators should permit and begin to prepare for “human challenge” vaccine trials in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic. In these trials, fully informed volunteers would be injected with potential vaccines (or with a placebo) and then intentionally exposed to the virus.
MELBOURNE/LOS ANGELES – Last month, the vaccine advocacy group 1Day Sooner published an open letter to Francis Collins, Director of the US National Institutes of Health, urging regulators to permit and begin to prepare for “human challenge” vaccine trials in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as possible. In these trials, fully informed volunteers would be injected with potential vaccines (or with a placebo) and then would be “challenged” by being intentionally exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Later this month, a similar letter will be sent to the heads of government health departments in several countries where COVID-19 vaccine research is being conducted, and to Keva Bain, President of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.
On the day that the open letter to Collins was released, Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and a signatory, stated that he believes that human challenge trials should be “feasible and informative” in the coming months. The Jenner Institute is among the leaders in seeking to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, and this is the first announcement from a developer indicating support for human challenge trials.