The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) presents itself very differently depending on the population it infects—and even these cohorts continue to produce outliers.
The best way to counter the illness’s course of action is by having a reserve of variables to account for ahead of time. This reserve is constantly expanding thanks to post-mortem analysis and more recently, a crop of volunteers premised against the pathogen’s erratic modus.
Calling themselves the 1Day Sooner initiative, participants from around the world have volunteered to take experimental vaccine candidates before being infected with the novel coronavirus in a controlled setting.
The movement is staffed by lamens and academicians alike, with each justifying their support in service of the rapid development of COVID-19 risk assessments and therapeutics.
“Human challenge trials deliberately expose participants to infection, in order to study diseases and test vaccines or treatments. They have been used for influenza, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, and cholera. Researchers are exploring whether human challenge trials could support the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19,” the 1Day Sooner website states. “We do not have the manufacturing or supply chain capacity to produce the billions of vaccine doses needed across the globe with just one vaccine. Accelerating the development of just one additional safe and effective vaccine by even a couple of days could save thousands of lives.”
The motivating factors are a little more varied among the participant sample, though a theme of autonomy links the testimonials published thus far.
“This was a way for me to take back control of the situation, to feel like I was in a less hopeless place, and a less hopeless world, and be like, OK, I can do this. To make it better, I chose not to be in fear,” one member told CNN of her motives to become a 1Day Sooner.
To this point, although less than 1% of people under the age of 34 have died of COVID-19 in the US, a considerably higher percentage of the same demographic has been impacted by the job losses, limitations on hospitality services, macropolitical fallout, and increased drug and alcohol intake recorded nationwide between March and September.
The suffocating uncertainty that has defined 2020 is primarily authored by COVID-19, so it makes sense that some are eager to grapple with the respiratory disease on their own terms. However, many medical officials are uncertain of this appreciation.
AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and BioNTech have all confirmed that they will not be taking part in the controversial 1Day Sooner trials and a panel from the Health Research Authority in the United Kingdom is reportedly mulling over the medical ethics of condoning the campaign. As of the time of this writing, a push is being made for federal approval by some participating members of the organization.
“There’s very little research that carries zero risk,” HRA chief Terence Stephenson told the network. “Every day in this country and every country, health care professionals voluntarily put themselves at risk to care for other people.”
Over a million people have succumbed to COVID-19 around the globe. That’s a pretty sizeable patient sample, except there is only so much predictive data shared between them.
Not all of these deaths could be explained by comorbidities or genetic predispositions. Not all of these deaths occurred among elderly populations. Not all of these deaths were preceded by the same symptoms. Not all of these deaths were concentrated in the same regions.
This isn’t to say that the available literature is valueless, but it does illustrate a neverending cycle of educative elements. Human challenge trials may break this cycle but they could just as easily contribute to its disconcerting pace.
Similarly, when we talk about transmissibility with respect to SARS-COV-2, were talking about two hotly debated topics.
Viral inoculum, which refers to the initial dose one is exposed to. And viral load, which independently describes the copies of RNA being replicated in an infected person’s body per mL It is not entirely clear which more meaningfully predicts disease severity.
We then have to scrutinize the position of human volunteers. On our own shores, it’s had to say if it’s actually possible to know the degree to which monetary incentives are fueling one’s decision to take place in experimental vaccine trials during the most disproportionate recession in America’s history.
“Volunteers are usually compensated for their time and participation, but organizers must be careful not to pay an excessive amount that could border on being coercive,” UK based correspondents wrote of 1DaySooner’s recruitment process.
There are presently eleven vaccine candidates undergoing Phase 3 trials. Even with all of the confidence expressed by contributing members of The US Coronvirus Task Force, public skepticism remains fairly strong.
Less than 50% of the population is projected to take a clinically approved COVID-19 vaccine, which means the disease will continue to augment the way we interact with the rest of the world for many more years to come. Legislative efforts to loosen COVID-19’s hold on daily operations more often than not come with lasting repercussions. Whether we’re talking about allowing indoor dining in heavily affected counties or urging Americans to go out and spend the $1,200 they were granted several months ago now, actions meant to expedite the status quo have little effect while the health part of our health crisis is still in play.
In light of this, our resources might be better spent adjusting to crippled normalcy as opposed to propping the old world up on crutches.
“Do the necessary homework on the front end to come up with creative, transparent solutions to promote safety. I tell myself repeatedly that I can’t control other people. It’s not my job to shame them or get upset at them. I am responsible for myself. If the situation feels remotely unsafe be self-aware enough to take yourself out,” event designer, Edward Perotti told Ladders. “What’s getting to me is I’m watching people and they’re really looking for the information that they want to hear. I have to be safe I am high-risk. If you think a COVID-19 vaccine will eliminate all risks you’re fooling yourself, barely half of the country gets a flu vaccine, 60% maybe. Unless it’s 100% there is no guarantee. It’s gonna take at least a year for the mentality to circulate.”