Challenge studies are a form of research where healthy volunteers are deliberately challenged with an infection in order to enable research to take place. It is now being used to enable COVID-19 vaccine research to better establish the efficacy of vaccine candidates, although it is controversial given the risk of harm to volunteers. In this series of papers, we explore the ethics of challenge studies.
Vaccine policies and challenge trials: the ethics of relative risk in public health
In this St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Dr Sarah Chan explores three key areas of risk in ‘challenge trials’ – the deliberate infection of human participants to infectious agents as a tool for vaccine devlopment and improving our knowledge of disease biology. Dr Chan explores a) whether some forms of challenge trials cannot be ethically justified; b) why stratifying populations for vaccine allocation by risk profile can result in unjust risk distribution; and c) how comparing these cases and the evaluation of relative risk reveals flaws in approach to pandemic public health (18 November 2021).
Report commissioned by 1Day Sooner (March 2023).
'The Ethics of Controlled Human Infection Model Studies for Mitigating Pandemic Risks'
Authors: Bridget Williams, Josh Morrison, Dominic Wilkinson, Julian Savulescu Link to report 1Day Sooner aims to reduce the global burden on infectious disease and avert future pandemics by working to accelerate the development and implementation of vaccines, treatments, and mechanical interventions.
They do so as advocates for people who want to be in high-impact medical studies, including human challenge studies.