Tens of thousands of people have signed up to a campaign by a group called 1 Day Sooner to be an experimental vaccine candidate in a controlled trial of coronavirus vaccine.
While most of people avoid Covid-19 at all costs, Estefania Hidalgo, 32, a photography student in Bristol, England, who works at a gas station to pay the bills is among the growing group of people around the world prepared to deliberately take on the virus.
“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.”
Volunteers in such trials are typically compensated for their time and participation and experts say warned organizers must be careful not to pay an amount that could be deemed coercive.
However, critics say that challenge trials have limited use because the young, healthy people who take part don’t represent a broad demography of the population.
Although the UK government said it is in active conversations to collaborate on such a trial, which would be the first in the world for coronavirus, big vaccine developers like AstraZeneca, Sanofi and BioNTech have said that they have no interest in participating.
Human challenge trials have always been controversial though they not new. They have been used for cholera, typhoid, malaria, and even the common cold but unlike those diseases, we do not yet have a completely effective treatment for Covid-19, should the experimental vaccine fail.