When pandemics strike, vaccine development becomes a priority. Remember the swine flu scare in 2009? We got Tamiflu, the medication to help overcome it as a result.
But to develop medications and vaccines, scientists need real humans to test it out on first.
Would you get infected with coronavirus for £3500?
- Why clinical trials are necessary
- The coronavirus vaccine trial
- Who could apply?
- Before you consider being a medical guinea pig
- How to join clinical trials
Scientists need to test vaccines and medications to make sure they’re safe for human consumption. Every medication you’ve ever had will have gone through rigorous lab and human testing before reaching you.
The controversy around clinical trials is that you’re putting yourself at a huge risk. The side effects of a drug or vaccine are unknown – that’s why they’re testing them on you! However, if you’re otherwise healthy and willing to take that risk, you could earn a lot of money in a short period of time.
It takes years for vaccines and medications to come to market. Research ramps up when pandemics strike. It still takes years for a vaccine to actually reach the market, though.
The faster a vaccine is developed, the more chance there is of preventing a serious global epidemic. This vaccine won’t prevent the existing crisis – but it would stop the longevity of the coronavirus pandemic and help prevent it from becoming a mainstay like the norovirus.
What does the trial entail?
There are actually 35 different coronavirus vaccine trials in the UK at the moment. It’s a race to get the cure!
A typical clinical trial for the coronavirus means you:
- Get injected with coronavirus
- Receive the test drug
- Stay quarantined for 2 weeks
- Have a restricted diet, can’t exercise, and won’t be allowed contact with anyone else.
After the two weeks, people are tested for the virus. Once the scientists are happy you’re not contagious, you can collect your cheque and go home!
Clinical trials need a range of people depending on what they’re testing. Some, like asthma drug trials, need people with the condition to test.
However, with something like the coronavirus, you’ll need to be in great health. That’s because we already know it has serious effects (even death) for those with underlying health conditions. You’re infected with coronavirus – so you have to be in strong health to start with.
Your age will also be an important factor – you must be 18 or over to consent to a clinical trial.
You’ll need to live in – or be able to visit – London in most cases. Your accommodation and food is provided as part of the test. Travel expenses to London may not be covered, though.
Getting cash from a clinical trial is appealing to anyone who needs to make quick money. However, it’s not without risks.
You put your health into immediate danger. After all, you’re willingly being injected with a virus known to be deadly to some.
The drug isn’t human-approved yet (that’s why they need you!). You face unknown side effects or long-term impact. You might feel fine immediately during and after the trial – but several years down the line there could be complications due to an experimental drug.
You’ll sign a waiver before the trial that exempts the lab from responsibility to your health or even death. That means if you discover years down the line you’ve developed an issue directly related to the trial, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to claim compensation for it.
The first thing you can do is speak to your GP or hospital specialist about clinical trials related to any long-term conditions you have.
If you’re healthy and want to take part in clinical trials, the first stop is the National Institute for Health Research. You can find trials based on location, drug type, or condition.
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