In what is a remarkable milestone for global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, over 30,000 people have now signed up with 1Day Sooner to be deliberately exposed to the coronavirus in a challenge trial to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development. Some epidemiologists estimate that a challenge trial could accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development by months, saving tens of thousands of lives.
Preparation for COVID-19 challenge trials has begun. On June 9, Belgium allocated $22 million for the construction of challenge quarantine facilities. On June 15, Anthony Fauci said that the National Institutes of Health will begin the manufacture of a virus that would be used to infect volunteers. The same day, an international panel of researchers from the World Health Organization released an 81-page draft blueprint on how to design COVID-19 challenge trials. A majority of the panel also recommended that challenge trials begin whether or not a rescue therapy exists.
This milestone exemplifies humanity’s capacity to come together during a crisis. We hope to register hundreds of thousands more volunteers and guarantee a diverse and representative group of eligible subjects for any challenge trial, wherever it is conducted. Now that there is consensus behind challenge trial preparation, we hope and expect that America’s National Institutes of Health and other global scientific bodies immediately mobilize resources for these trials and treat their preparation with the urgency they so clearly merit.