Over the last 9 months, we have seen truly heroic efforts of leaders in science, industry and government working in public-private partnerships and global collaboration to innovate and accelerate the development of effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 on a time scale previously unimaginable. This should give us all encouragement that despite the political disfunction we often are obsessed with, that great people, companies and institutions can still work together and achieve amazing results. Thanks to them, we will win this war on COVID-19. And the good news is that the advances borne out of this struggle will serve us well going forward.
Now comes the part where you can make a difference. The most critical stages in any successful vaccine or trial are the clinical trials. We cannot know that a vaccine or treatment is safe and effective until we get real world data from double-blind trials. Further, this is not a binary thing: there are dozens and dozens of different vaccines and treatments that will each have their own profiles for effectiveness and safety. It is only through experience – and data – that we will learn and hone in over time on what works best.
So, if you want to actually take action to help yourself and others, register for a clinical trial. This is somewhat like a lottery ticket, alas – these are very limited in their participation. But if you qualify and are able to participate, you will:
- make an important contribution to the battle against COVID-19; and
- get access to protection and treatment.
Of course, no one wants to get the placebo – and you cannot know which you will receive. But it is likely that participating in a trial would have benefits of repeated testing and rapid access to treatments – most especially mABs. It is also often common in such trials that if the data is very positive, that there can be an early termination and all of the recipients of the placebo would be given the actual vaccine or treatment. That’s not usual, but there is nothing usual about the circumstances we are in!
So, here is a chance to do something that is truly good for others, and our society, and good for you as well. That’s a pretty great combination!
The COVID-19 Prevention Network
The COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) was formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the US National Institutes of Health to respond to the global pandemic. Using the infectious disease expertise of their existing research networks and global partners, NIAID has directed the networks to address the pressing need for vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against SARS-CoV-2. You can register there for clinical trials for all of the most advanced vaccines and treatments that have been developed by Pfizer, Regeneron, Eli Lilly, Moderna and others.
For those that are young, healthy and a bit adventurous, 1DaySooner.org is an organization that advocates on behalf of COVID-19 challenge trial volunteers. Human challenge trials deliberately expose participants to infection, in order to study diseases and test vaccines or treatments. They have been used for influenza, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, and cholera. Researchers are exploring whether human challenge trials could support the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.