Sunday, February 07, 2021

Some things you may not have thought about regarding vaccine trials

Here's an interesting and thought-provoking article by someone who volunteered for the British clinical trials for the Oxford/AstaZeneca COVID vaccine.

As well as giving an insight into the actual process of a double-blind placebo trial, it also looks at the decision-making behind volunteering for such a trial: you might get an early dose of a working vaccine - and make a few hundred bucks - or you might get the placebo and remain unprotected, long after other people have been receiving doses of a perfectly good working vaccine.

It looks at some of the more philosophical and ethical factors involved, as well as some of the pactical considerations, in something that we think of as a purely scientific process. It also considers the implications of the need to continue monitoring trial subjects long-term, and the difficulties that vaccine producers are encountering in continued testing of their products at a time when many people, particularly older people, have either already been vaccinated or at least are expecting to be called up any day now.

When I read about healthcare workers hesitating to get the COVID vaccine because "they feel like they're being treated as guinea pigs", I now think about this article, and the army of volunteer guinea pigs like her who put their time and potentially their health on the line to test out these drugs for the rest of us. What a slap in the face it must be for the actual trial subjects to read about this kind of spurious concern, particularly among healthcare workers who should know better. 

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