In an open letter to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 15 Nobel Laureates are joined by over one hundred prominent figures and over two thousand 1Day Sooner challenge volunteers in advocating for the potential of challenge trials to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development. The signatories come from a range of disciplines including epidemiology, medicine, economics, psychology, and philosophy.
“If challenge trials can safely and effectively speed the vaccine development process,” the letter states, “then there is a formidable presumption in favor of their use, which would require a very compelling ethical justification to overcome.”
The NIH, which has funded the research of 160 Nobel Laureates, has been at the forefront of medical research for decades. While the NIH has committed to producing the virus, Dr. Collins has stated that COVID-19 challenge trials are “on the table for discussion — not on the table to start designing a plan.”
In contrast, Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and signatory of the open letter, writes in a public statement that “collaborative human challenge studies should be feasible and informative in the coming months.” This is the first public statement from a vaccine developer about their plans to conduct a COVID-19 human challenge trial.
As 1Day Sooner and Oxford’s Jenner Institute collaborate on human challenge trial preparation, it is essential that Dr. Collins and the NIH do not lag behind by neglecting preparation for these trials. As the signatories write, “we appeal to the government and foundation funders around the world to support this effort.”
1DaySooner is an organization that advocates on behalf of COVID-19 challenge trial volunteers.