Malaria trial, the missing nurse and the media

By David Hunter

I’m really not sure how to pitch this one – to be frank I don’t have enough credible information to go on – given that my first exposure to the story was via the Daily Mail… But it is also on the BBC’s site in various forms.

The rough story is that a volunteer for a clinical trial involving malaria was exposed to malaria, and then absconded fleeing the country before the second part of the trial, which was supposed to be a treatment arm.

You can see the full story (in it’s daily mail glory) here:

Or if you prefer a slightly less sensational BBC report see here:

I must admit to being a bit baffled, and if anyone knows more than I do about this I’d love to hear it.

Two obvious questions occur:
1. If this really is a live malaria trial and there was genuine risk of the participant dying in three days without treatment – then why do this as an outpatient study – what kind of research ethics committee would allow that, given the fairly obvious risks involved. (having had malaria myself, I’m a bit skeptical about a fair amount of this story)

2. Why would a trial of a malaria treatment be carried out like this, given the abundance of already exposed people elsewhere – again it seems surprising that a REC would approve this.

It might simply be a case of media confusion, but I thought it was interesting enough to flag up.

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