Human challenge trials are “unnecessary, uninformative and unethical,” a former professor at Harvard Medical School said Friday.
Also known as controlled infection trials, human challenge involves the intentional exposure of participants to a virus to allow more rapid assessment of a vaccine’s efficacy.“Basically, it's treating (people) like laboratory animals,” William Haseltine told CNN.
The United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working to create a strain of coronavirus that could be used in human challenge trials of a Covid-19 vaccine, although there are no plans to do so, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier Friday.
Haseltine said such trials are typically only necessary when a virus is not “raging,” and the coronavirus is currently in widespread circulation.
He added that participants would likely be mainly healthy, young people, so the trials would not yield information about those most at risk for serious illness.
“Are we really ready to infect people with live virus that can kill them?” Haseltine said.