Pacific Beach

Volunteers Sign Up To Get Coronavirus For The Greater Good

More than 31,000 volunteers have signed up on the 1 Day Sooner website showing their interest in controversial human challenge trials

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As Biotech companies around the world race towards and through vaccine trials, a group called "1 Day Sooner" is compiling volunteers who would be willing to risk their own lives for the greater good should they get the call.

"I'm relatively young and healthy. I know for myself, getting COVID-19 is low risk, so I figured this is something I could do to contribute," said Patrick Mulrooney.

Mulrooney, 36, a computer programmer with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, signed up for the group back in May.

More than 31,000 people worldwide have done the same.

"Basically, you'd get injected with the vaccine, wait a couple of weeks, once the response has shown, you'd go to these locations and get injected with COVID-19," Mulrooney said.

Unlike traditional trials where people receive just the vaccine, human challenge trials are more controversial.

While they’ve been used before for influenza and malaria, The Food and Drug Administration has never allowed one for such a novel disease without a cure.

COVID-19 would present new risks and unknowns for the government, the drug makers, and especially volunteers.

Mulrooney, who lives in Pacific Beach, says his wife is on board, although she didn't sign up herself.

If companies get the green light for a human challenge trial and decide to use one, volunteers would go through strict medical evaluations to sort out the healthiest candidates.

According to stats and articles listed on the 1 Day Sooner website, the death risk of a COVID-19 human challenge trial would be comparable to childbirth or a kidney donation.

The website states if they can speed up a vaccine by three months, it could save an estimated half a million lives.

Critics push back on the risk/reward for human challenge trials asking how volunteers can give informed consent when so little is known about the potential long-term complications of COVID-19?

Mulrooney understands the criticism and debate but still wants to help society back on its feet as soon as possible.

"There's a reason we conduct vaccine trials the way we normally do, but this is not a normal time and the impact is so great, that I think the response needs to be equally as great," Mulrooney said.

COVID-19 vaccine trials are moving at an unprecedented speed, as researchers try to accomplish in months what usually takes years.

While human challenge trials aren't guaranteed at this point, they haven't been ruled out either.

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