An Ethical Quandary: In Vaccine Trials, Is It Worth The Risk To Infect Healthy People?
Trials using healthy volunteers would speed up the development of a safe vaccine for everyone else. But scientists and ethicists are still debating where that falls on the ethical spectrum of risk and benefits. In other news: how super antibodies could lead to a vaccine; Moderna projects a fall release of efficacy data; and more.
The Washington Post:
Volunteers Sign Up To Put Lives On The Line For Coronavirus Vaccine
Lehua Gray, a 32-year-old product manager in Austin, wants to risk her life for a coronavirus vaccine. A cloud of potentially deadly microbes would be spritzed up her nose — if she’s allowed to participate in what’s called a human challenge trial. It’s built on a deceptively simple premise: Researchers inject healthy volunteers with an experimental vaccine and then expose them to a pathogen. If the vaccine prevents volunteers from getting sick, the study can accelerate development of a promising formula. This approach has been used to test malaria and cholera vaccines — and now, in laboratories and conference rooms, preliminary discussions are unfolding about the feasibility of employing it in the quest to find a weapon against the novel coronavirus. (Guarino and Johnson, 6/15)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Rare, Super Coronavirus Antibodies Likely To Yield Vaccine, Say Stanford, UCSF Experts
The discovery of antibodies that block the most infectious elements of the coronavirus is helping Bay Area scientists unlock the many mysteries of human immunity, and could be crucial in the development of a vaccine. Epidemiologists have found “neutralizing antibodies” in fewer than 5% of COVID-19 patients, but the ones they are now attempting to isolate are unique in their ability to prevent SARS-CoV-2 — the specific coronavirus that causes the illness — from entering human cells. (Fimrite, 6/15)
Moderna Says Vaccine Efficacy Data Could Come By Thanksgiving
Moderna Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said efficacy data for its Covid-19 vaccine could be available by as soon as Thanksgiving if everything goes right. Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is in second-stage trials, with final-stage trials set to begin next month on 30,000 people. In an interview on Bloomberg Television on Monday with David Rubenstein, Bancel said in a best-case scenario “we could have efficacy data by Thanksgiving. This is the best time line.” While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would decide what to do next, “they might decide to give us emergency use approval for people at very high risk,” while the agency more carefully reviews the data before granting approval for a broader population, Bancel said. (Langreth, 6/15)
AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine To Be Shared Across Europe, Says France
A deal between AstraZeneca and four European countries for COVID-19 vaccines involves doses being shared by European Union members on a pro rata basis based on population, a source at the French President’s office said on Monday. (Rose and Blenkinsop, 6/15)
Vaccine-Hesitant Parents Especially Leery Of Flu Shots, Study Finds
About 1 in 15 US parents (6.1%) is hesitant about routine childhood vaccines, and more than 1 in 4 (26%) are unsure about flu vaccines, according to a study published today in Pediatrics. Researchers surveyed 2,176 parents in February 2019 using an online panel and a modified five-point Vaccine Hesitancy Scale found that 12% strongly agreed, and 27% somewhat agreed, that they worried about perceived serious side effects of childhood and flu vaccines. And while 70% strongly agreed that routine childhood vaccines are effective, only 26% said they thought the same about flu vaccines. (Van Beusekom, 6/15)