Tens of thousands of people are reportedly volunteering to participate in 1 Day Sooner's COVID-19 challenge trials. Through the UK program, volunteers can receive an experimental vaccine and then face the virus in a controlled setting.
Challenge trials are not rare when dealing with viruses and developing vaccines. In the past, challenge trials have been utilized when dealing with malaria, cholera and the common cold. However, there is one major difference. When organizing challenge trials for those illnesses, there were more tested treatments if something were to go wrong than there are for COVID-19.
"Every day in this country and every country, health care professionals voluntarily put themselves at risk to care for other people," Terrence Stephenson of the UK's Health Research Authority said.
"People who, in their judgment, might be willing to do that for the benefit of wider society -- I don't personally find that surprising."
At more than 600,000 cases, the UK ranks twelfth in the world in confirmed cases. Making matters worse, the country ranks fifth in the world in COVID-19 related deaths. Those who have volunteered for the trials have said that they feel like their participation will help lead to a cure and save lives.
"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," Estefania Hidalgo of Bristol said.
"The risk to me is tiny. But by taking that small risk on myself, I can potentially protect thousands of other people from having to be infected without consenting to it," 18-year-old 1 Day Sooner volunteer Alastair Fraser-Urquhart added.
"If ever it's the time to push the boundaries and discover how quickly we can do stuff, and how well we can do stuff, and to take on risks for other people, it's now."
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