Is volunteering for a COVID clinical trial a good idea? Should you participate for personal reasons or the good of humanity? Let’s address some things you should know before volunteering for a coronavirus vaccine trial.
In this article:
Joining a COVID Clinical Trial: A Good Idea or Not?
Since news of the novel coronavirus broke back at the end of 2019, scientists have been fighting to find a vaccine. The U.S. government has already poured billions of dollars across several companies to develop and manufacture a vaccine.
Several drug-making companies are in Phase III trials, but hundreds and thousands of volunteers are now needed to test the vaccines and get approval for general use.
If you’re thinking of being one of those volunteers, here’s what you should know first.
How Clinical Trials Work in the U.S
There are three main phases of human vaccine clinical trials.
- Phase I – Focuses primarily on the safety of the vaccine. Small groups of volunteers are given the vaccine to test for side effects and dosage. You’d be one of the first people to get the vaccine, but you’d be monitored closely after each dose and normally, periodically, for about a year after.
- Phase II-A larger group of candidates, usually with varying characteristics and health statuses, are given the vaccine to observe other potential side effects and if an immune response is generated. It’s important to note that participants might not be effectively protected by the vaccine, even if an immune response is generated.
- Phase III – Hundreds and thousands of volunteers are given the vaccine (the test group) to determine if it’s effective against the virus and prevents infection. Half the group will receive a placebo to serve as a control group.
Volunteers are unlikely to be intentionally exposed to COVID-19. Instead, researchers will track participants to see how many contracts the virus. This could determine if the vaccine reduces the chance of contracting the virus or reduces the infection’s severity.
After the three phases are complete, the data is reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If they approve the vaccine for general use, further monitoring will continue.
- Previous rigorous testing and FDA checks are done before any human trials to ensure safety.
- Compensation is available for expenses and time and can vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. However, don’t let any compensation stop you from paying attention to the risks.
- You could be one of the first people to receive a vaccine.
- Anyone over the age of 18 can apply. A diverse population of candidates is important, including people who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Historically African Americans and Latinos have under-enrolled in clinical trials, so government organizations and companies stress the importance of diverse involvement in these studies.
- You can leave the trial at any time. Always put your health first, even if that means quitting. However, the research will be more impactful if you endure the whole process.
- Doing something to help can boost your mood. Few tangible jobs work directly to help COVID patients (other than health care workers). So this is an excellent opportunity to give something back, which comes with the added reward of emotional and psychological benefits.
- There are some risks. Any adverse reactions from other participants usually result in a halted trial.
- You might have to pay expenses for adverse reactions. Despite being compensated for being in the trial, if you have a bad reaction, it’s unlikely that your insurance company will pay out if you need medical treatment. This situation may be different, so ensure you read the small print thoroughly.
- You may not receive the vaccine and instead be in the control group. However, this is still a vital role; otherwise, there would be no way to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Suppose you are considering taking part in a clinical trial. In that case, it is encouraged to speak with your doctor or medical professional first to ensure you understand the risks and are comfortable with the decision you make.
For more information, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.
Would you volunteer for a clinical trial for COVID or other reasons? Or, maybe you have already. Let us know your story in the comments section below.
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