A petition calling on the UK government to prepare a Challenge Study Center capable of housing 100-200 volunteers for a potential COVID-19 human challenge trial has gained the support of prominent British intellectuals including Lord Ara Darzi, Nobel Laureate Sir Richard Roberts, and Director of Medical Ethics at Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics Dominic Wilkinson.
“Over 2,500 Britons have volunteered for a potential COVID-19 human challenge trial,” said Josh Morrison, Executive Director of 1Day Sooner. “This is the first formal UK petition in support of challenge studies, and it represents a remarkable coming-together of vaccine volunteers and scientists. We hope that researchers embrace the altruism of these brave volunteers.”
Lord Ara Darzi, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London and petition signatory, said that “COVID-19 human challenge trials can quickly tell us which vaccines work, allowing vaccine developers to optimize manufacture and distribution accordingly. This is critical if we want to ensure that vaccines are accessible to all eight billion people around the world. Challenge trials can also tell researchers indispensable information about COVID-19, such as correlates of protection and early stage pathogenesis, that have wide applicability to the development of vaccines and treatments.”
Dominic Wilkinson, Director of Medical Ethics at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and petition signatory, added that “it is abundantly clear that there is an ethical imperative to plan and conduct challenge trials.”