The first human challenge trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine — in which healthy volunteers are infected with the virus after being given different vaccines under development — is planned for January.
A Rutgers expert is available to discuss the ethical considerations involved in human challenge trials.
“It is true that a challenge trial carries risk to volunteers, but those risks can be dramatically suppressed. Compared to the dramatic humanitarian value of a challenge trial, these risks to volunteers are ethically acceptable,” said Nir Eyal, director of the Center for Population-Level Bioethics at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research.
“Informed consent is crucial, and study volunteers must prove their comprehension of all risks and uncertainties,” Eyal said. “Just as the consensual nature of kidney donation helps justify risks to kidney donors, so does the challenge volunteer’s autonomous consent to being put at risk, for the greater cause of ending the pandemic earlier."