Promising COVID-19 vaccines are being tested, but how long will it be before we can get them?
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Vaccines take time to test. Researchers first give a vaccine to some test subjects, while giving others a placebo (a fake.) Then the researchers have to wait as test subjects go out into the world, resume their normal lives, and see who catches the virus.
Some test subjects will get sick, and some won’t. But it takes a long time (months, if not years) for enough test subjects to get sick to determine if the people with the vaccine did better than the ones given the fake dose.
That’s why we hear it’ll be “12-18 months” before a vaccine is available. Even President Trump, with his “warp speed” plan, says he hopes it’ll be ready “by the end of the year.” That’s 6 months away.
But there is a faster way! Instead of waiting for test subjects to get infected, intentionally infect some. Then researchers wouldn’t have to wait.
More than 24,000 volunteers have already signed up, saying they’re willing to be voluntarily infected with COVID-19 to find a vaccine faster.
They told me things like:
— “If a vaccine were come on just one month earlier, it’d save 220,000 lives.”
— “I’m young and healthy, so the risks for me are relatively low.”
— “I want to play any role I can in ending this crisis.”
— “I have no hesitation, no second thoughts, because I understand the science.”
They’d be part of what’s called a “human challenge trial” because participants are “challenged” with the virus. The method was used to find vaccines for diseases like Malaria, Cholera, and the flu.
Some bioethicists urge researchers to slow down, saying it’s wrong to voluntarily infect people with a disease that has no known cure.
But I say: these volunteers are adults who know the risks! Let people make their own choices. The volunteers may save thousands of lives .