What’s yours is ours: intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines

By Nancy S. Jecker. The extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic warrant waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is currently considering such a move, which over 100 Nobel laureates and 75 former heads of state have backed, calling it a “vital and necessary step” that would “expand global manufacturing […]

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The value of COVID challenge trials for diverse populations

By Nir Eyal and Tobias Gerhard Perhaps the strongest argument against COVID challenge trials posits that they must choose between the Scylla of insufficient safety for volunteers and the Charybdis of insufficient social value. In particular, challenge trials that exclude old or unhealthy participants for their own safety may involve surprisingly low risk, but they […]

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Challenge studies for COVID-19: Now is still not the time

By Françoise Baylis and Landon J Getz Two challenge studies for COVID-19 involving the deliberate infection of healthy volunteers aged 18-30 are underway in the UK. Both studies involve the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 from Wuhan China, and not the recent variants of concern – commonly referred to as B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1. These variants […]

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COVID-19 human challenge volunteers are neither doing too little, nor helping too late

By Abie Rohrig and David Manheim The world’s first COVID-19 human challenge trial began in early March, with around a dozen healthy, consenting volunteers between the ages of 18-30 deliberately exposed to the virus at a quarantine facility in London. Getz and Baylis recently argued that the questionable harm-benefit ratio of COVID-19 challenge trials make them […]

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Challenge studies for COVID-19: Now is not the time

By Landon J Getz and Francoise Baylis hVIVO, a for-profit clinical research organization in London, in collaboration with Imperial College London, has initiated a human challenge study in youth between the ages of 18 and 30 to determine the dose at which individuals become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The dose-ranging study, […]

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Ethics, iBlastoids, and brain organoids: Time to revise antiquated laws and processes

By Julian Savulescu. Jose Polo and his team at Monash University have successfully reprogrammed human adult cells (fibroblasts – skin cells) to form “iBlastoids”. These are structures which are like early human embryos. Normally when a sperm enters an egg, it produces a new cell, which divides, and these cells divide until a blastocyst is formed […]

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How to ethically conduct research with Black populations at the intersection of COVID-19 and Black lives matter

By Natasha Crooks, Geri Donenberg, Alicia Matthews. For months now, we have been asking ourselves if it is appropriate to engage populations in research who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and continuously being murdered by institutions (i.e., government, police, hospitals) that are supposed to be protecting them. The current societal context suggests Black lives are […]

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Dialyzing the discourse: a response to Rohrig and Manheim

By Hayden P. Nix and Charles Weijer In a recent blog post, we sought to answer the narrow question: is altruistic kidney donation sufficiently analogous to participation in a SARS-CoV-2 challenge study to justify the risks of SARS-CoV-2 challenge studies? We argued that three morally relevant differences (the risk of adverse effects, the availability of […]

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Response to Nix and Weijer: Close Eneph? SARS-CoV-2 challenge studies and altruistic kidney donation

By Abie Rohrig and David Manheim. In a recent blog post, Nix and Weijer argue that living kidney donation and volunteering for a COVID-19 challenge trial are disanalogous, and that “advocates of SARS-CoV-2 challenge studies must look elsewhere to justify the level of risk in these studies.” They offer three arguments to support this view: adverse effects […]

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Close Eneph? SARS-CoV-2 challenge studies and altruistic kidney donation

By Hayden P. Nix and Charles Weijer. Human challenge studies are clinical trials in which researchers intentionally infect research participants with a pathogen. The UK government has announced plans to conduct SARS-CoV-2 challenge studies beginning in January 2021. SARS-CoV-2 human challenge studies are controversial because of the risks they pose to participants. In order to […]

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