David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Would you volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine trial? 1,500 people just did.

Human-challenge trials are not without risk, but they could speed up the process.

Registered nurse Heather Hoppe receives a flu vaccination in the trial clinic at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital on April 20, 2020 in Perth, Australia.

Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images
  • 1Day Sooner recruited nearly 1,500 volunteers for a potential human-challenge trial to test for COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Human-challenge trials could help expedite the process that clinical trials must endure.
  • At least six COVID-19 vaccination trials are currently underway, with over 70 planned around the world.

Americans are being asked to sacrifice a lot right now. Shelter at home orders are in place to help limit the number of elderly and high-risk citizens flooding into hospitals, which overwhelms the health care system. It's not that we aren't feeling the pain. Over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment in a mere five weeks. There are reasons for our sacrifices, yet that doesn't make them any easier to bear.

Which leads to another question of sacrifice: Would you be willing to be infected with COVID-19 as part of an early-stage vaccination trial? For nearly 1,500 healthy, young citizens, that answer is yes.

Nature reports that roughly that number of Americans signed up for 1Day Sooner, early-stage research that could potentially speed up the vaccination process, which typically takes 12-18 months. Known as a human-challenge trial, volunteers would be infected so that researchers could test vaccines and treatments—basically, a rushed clinical trial, with everyone well-informed of the stakes.

Germany approves trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate

1Day Sooner co-founder, Josh Morrison (whose organization is not funded by companies working on a coronavirus vaccine), is pre-qualifying volunteers now in case human-challenge trials are coming down the pipeline. He's hoping that this enthusiasm will help inspire politicians and public policy experts to expedite the testing process. Being a high-risk endeavor, Morrison believes the payoff could be even bigger.

"Many note that they recognize the risk but believe the benefits of vaccine acceleration are so tremendous that it is worth it to them."

1Day Sooner isn't the only organization looking for a vaccine. Two volunteers were just injected with COVID-19 as part of a study at Oxford—the first of over 800 people that have signed off on being tested.

Meanwhile, volunteers at Kaiser Permanente's Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit in Seattle are undergoing their second round of vaccination trials. That study began on March 16.

Hong Kong's CanSino Biologies, in partnership with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, has also just entered phase 2 of their clinical trials.

Clinical trials at Beth Israel are planned to launch in September, with companies such as Johnson and Johnson dedicating $1 billion to this research.

The World Health Organization announced its Solidarity Trial, with over 100 countries participating in an effort to identify effective treatments as soon as possible. All told, the WHO announced six coronavirus trials that are currently underway, with over 70 planned around the world.

A red cross nurse applies a vaccine during a drive thru influenza vaccination operation at Riocentro on March 26, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This vaccination does not prevent against the coronavirus (COVID-19), but helps the most vulnerable from other diseases.

Photo by Bruna Prado/Getty Images

A human-challenge trial, such as the one being proposed by 1Day Sooner, is not without potentially deadly consequences. Nir Eyal, director at the Center for Population-Level Bioethics at Rutgers University, recently said that human-challenges are not uncommon. They've been conducted on cholera and malaria. COVID-19 is a bit different, given its novelty. While we don't know the extent of damage of this virus, overall he thinks such trials are worth the risk.

"The main attraction is that they could greatly accelerate the time to approval and potential use. The thing that takes the longest time in testing vaccines is phase III efficacy testing. That's done on many, many people, some of whom get the vaccine and some of whom get placebos or competing vaccine candidates. Researchers then look for differences between these two groups in infection rates."

Making a sacrifice is always a gamble, yet it points to the importance of a collectivist mindset: It's not just about you, but everyone. These volunteers deserve a lot of respect for their service.


Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter and Facebook. His next book is "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by climate change, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.
Keep reading Show less

Creativity: The science behind the madness

Human brains evolved for creativity. We just have to learn how to access it.

Creativity: The science behind the madness | Rainn Wilson, David Eagleman, Scott ...
  • An all-star cast of Big Thinkers—actors Rainn Wilson and Ethan Hawke; composer Anthony Brandt; neuroscientists David Eagleman, Wendy Suzuki, and Beau Lotto; and psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—share how they define creativity and explain how our brains uniquely evolved for the phenomenon.
  • According to Eagleman, during evolution there was an increase in space between our brain's input and output that allows information more time to percolate. We also grew a larger prefrontal cortex which "allows us to simulate what ifs, to separate ourselves from our location in space and time and think about possibilities."
  • Scott Barry Kaufman details 3 brain networks involved in creative thinking, and Wendy Suzuki busts the famous left-brain, right-brain myth.

Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
Keep reading Show less
Politics & Current Affairs

How #Unity2020 plans to end the two-party system, bring back Andrew Yang

The proposal calls for the American public to draft two candidates to lead the executive branch: one from the center-left, the other from the center-right.

Scroll down to load more…