Scientists Call for ‘Human Challenge Trials’ to Speed Vaccine Development

In support of “human challenge trials” believed to expedite the development of a coronavirus vaccine, 100 scientists signed an open letter to Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, calling for their use.

“If challenge trials can safely and effectively speed the vaccine development process, there is a formidable presumption in favor of their use, which would require a very compelling ethical justification to overcome,” the scientists said in the letter, CNN reported.

In addition to the scientists, 2,000 trial volunteers signed the letter published first by 1 Day Sooner, an organization supporting human trials to combat the virus.

Earlier this month, the NIH’s Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Intervention and Vaccines Working Group rejected challenge trials, writing in a New England Journal of Medicine piece that “a single death or severe illness in an otherwise healthy volunteer would be unconscionable and would halt progress.” The NIH group noted large, randomized controlled trials of coronavirus vaccine are “the most efficient, generalizable and scientifically robust path to establishing vaccine efficacy.”

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