from the world's big
In his book with Richard Clarke, "Warnings," Eddy made clear this was inevitable.
- In their 2017 book, "Warnings," R.P. Eddy and Richard Clarke warned about a coming pandemic.
- "You never get credit for correctly predicting an outbreak," says science journalist Laurie Garrett in the book.
- In this interview with Big Think, R.P. Eddy explains why people don't listen to warnings—and how to try to get them to listen.
<p>If only we had a warning.</p><p>Well, besides this <a href="https://cmr.asm.org/content/20/4/660?fbclid=IwAR2veUWlXE0ydoFEzl0PoHPPwcQQkNk1zTncJt4GleZ_whDZi9_xcCCHJyk" target="_blank">2007 review</a> from a team at the University of Hong Kong warning about a pandemic coming from a wet market in southern China. Or President Obama <a href="https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/04/10/barack-obama-2014-pandemic-comments-sot-ctn-vpx.cnn" target="_blank">warning</a> about the potential for a pandemic in 2014. Or journalist <a href="https://www.lauriegarrett.com/about" target="_blank">Laurie Garrett</a>, who has been covering diseases since reporting from Africa in the late 1970s, where she noticed that measles killed way more citizens than war. Her <a href="https://www.lauriegarrett.com/the-coming-plague" target="_blank">1994 book</a> was aptly titled "The Coming Plague."</p><p>Garrett is what Richard Clarke and R.P. Eddy call a "Cassandra" in their 2017 book, "Warnings." The term honors the Greek priestess who was cursed to utter prophecies that no one would believe. A Cassandra, they write, has "the ability to detect danger from warning signs before others see it." Their book covers seven warnings we should have seen—Hurricane Katrina, Bernie Madoff, Fukushima, ISIS—and seven that are coming. </p><p>Well, six. </p><p>True story: a few weeks ago, I finish reading Sam Quinones's exceptional reporting on the opioid epidemic, "Dreamland." The next book on my desk is "Warnings," which I planned on re-reading in order to cover the chapter on pandemics. I open Twitter to find a private message from R.P. Eddy randomly sharing their chapter on pandemics. Either my laptop is listening a little too closely or it's a fortunate coincidence. I choose the latter and request an interview with Eddy, which he <a href="https://www.earthrisepodcast.com/politics/92-with-r-p-eddy/" target="_blank">graciously accepts</a>. </p><p>If anyone knows how governments respond (or don't respond) to crises, it's Eddy. The CEO of global intelligence firm, Ergo, Eddy previously served as Chief of Staff to Richard Holbrooke, Senior Adviser to Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, and Senior Policy Officer to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He was an architect of the Global Fund to Prevent AIDS, TB, and Malaria. He's lived, breathed, and studied pandemics for decades. He is the man that, if we had a functional government, would be helping lead us through this mess right now. </p><p>When I mention COVID-19, his first reply is not reassuring: "We're at the most foreseeable catastrophe I can think of."</p>
EarthRise Podcast 92: Predicting the Pandemic (with R.P. Eddy)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c1ce45635344c89d8213291842d947db"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tlcoXGNDlhE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Being a Cassandra isn't about assurance, but taking a broad look at the facts—he champions <a href="https://interactioninstitute.org/orthogonal-thinking-and-doing/#:~:text=Orthogonal%20thinking%20draws%20from%20a,to%20see%20what%20might%20emerge." target="_blank">orthogonal thinking</a> in "Warnings"—and piecing together a story. Eddy says it begins by noticing the "invisible obvious."</p><p>He mentions a 1970s-era conference designed to address the role of women on Wall St. The highly-touted gathering took months of planning. Hundreds of people were in attendance. It wasn't until everyone was on stage that someone noticed not a single woman was invited to speak. Once pointed out, no one could unsee it. </p><p>The invisible obvious. </p><p>In every "warning" chapter—the rise of AI, the challenge of sea-level rise, the dangers of gene editing—a Cassandra is detailed. Garrett fulfills that role for pandemics. She claims public health experts are placed in an impossible situation. "You never get credit for correctly predicting an outbreak." When they implement effective countermeasures that stop the spread of a virus, critics believe "that you exaggerated the threat." </p><p>Eddy is talking to me from Idaho, where his family is sheltering. He noticed something odd while driving across America. On the east coast, everyone was vigilant about distancing and masks. As the Eddys encroached upon the heartland, even they started loosening up the rules. No human is distinct from their environment. Eddy speaks about the pandemic daily—Ergo is behind the highly-regarded <a href="https://ergo.net/covid19" target="_blank">COVID-19 Intelligence Forum</a>—yet even he was being lulled into a false sense of security while stopping in communities that believe the coronavirus is a hoax, or at least not as dangerous as it is.</p><p>I ask why we're so prone to disbelieve the science behind public health efforts. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Humans have 130,000-year-old computers stuck between our ears. We are designed for a world much less complex than the one in which we find ourselves, and we are driven by biases and heuristics. We make mistakes all the time because we use these shortcuts that worked really well 100,000 years ago, but don't work well now."</p><p>Shortcuts that served tribes, not nations. Shortcuts that cause us to rely on the quick satisfaction of hearsay, not the slow complexity of science. Shortcuts that cause people to believe an invisible god has a plan for everyone and disbelieve a visible virus is ravaging our nation's broken health care system. Shortcuts that cause tens of millions of Americans to vote the worst possible person to the presidency when a pandemic was inevitable. </p>
Eddy attends an event hosted by GLG to welcome Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy, authors of "Warnings: Finding Cassandras To Stop Catastrophes" at GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group) on May 30, 2017 in New York City.
Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for GLG<p>I mention conspiracy theories. Eddy sighs—an appropriate response. We compare anti-maskers to anti-vaxxers, which are often cut from the same cloth. We both know plenty. He says it's best to first identify and acknowledge the base fear behind their "anti." Consider the idea that vaccines are a mechanism for microchipping the population.</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;">"Conspiracies are all based in some healthy place. These people are probably concerned about government surveillance and personal freedom. They believe every aspect of the Edward Snowden story; they believe this microchipping story is the next step. They're not wrong that we should watch and be aware, but they're wrong in thinking that we're falling for it right now."</p><p>Because we should be aware. Our government is corrupt to the bone. The challenge is distinguishing between incompetence and malfeasance. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I don't believe in government conspiracy theories because I don't think government is that competent. I've had every security clearance anyone could ever want in the U.S. government. Way above top secret. We do not have the capacity to pull off a 9/11 conspiracy or to microchip people. Everything leaks, especially in this era." </p><p>We've reached this strange era of mass hypnosis, where elected officials like Rand Paul can actually <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/06/30/rand-paul-to-federal-health-officials-we-shouldnt-presume-that-a-group-of-experts-somehow-knows-whats-best/" target="_blank">state</a> during congressional testimony, "We shouldn't presume that a group of experts somehow knows what's best." Then who to actually trust? An <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/rand-paul-ophthalmology-certification-scandal-why-it-matters" target="_blank">uncertified ophthalmologist</a> playing an epidemiologist on TV? </p><p>We're in serious trouble when people that have spent years studying and decades working in public health are usurped by charlatans at YouTube University. But here we are. </p><p>Sadly, optics matter. Cassandras aren't necessarily charismatic. They're concerned with data, not adoration. Then they run into animals with 130,000-year-old operating systems being exploited by captivating characters. Truth becomes secondary. Suddenly, <a href="https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/memberarticles/germ-theory-vs-terrain-theory-in-relation-to-the-coronavirus" target="_blank">germ theory isn't real</a>, masks are a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity" target="_blank">sign of indoctrination</a>, and the virus will "<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-still-believes-coronavirus-will-just-disappear-as-cases-rise-2020-7" target="_blank">magically disappear</a>." </p><p>Eddy's advice is important. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"You need to recognize when you're out of your depths and find an expert. It's not the blowhard on Fox News. It's probably, by the way, someone who probably does not have good presentation skills. But they likely have answers."</p><p>This is always true, especially during times of crisis. Times like now, when we need a unifying message and expert guidance, both of which America lacks. At least this much we know: we've been warned. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Innovative drugs are sometimes held up due to old-fashioned human biases.
- When new drugs are similar to popular drugs on the market, FDA approval takes up to 75 percent longer.
- Texas McCombs Professor Francisco Polidoro Jr. reviewed 291 drugs over a 35-year period.
- Polidoro believes that potential coronavirus treatments or vaccines could help the FDA improve upon this longstanding bias.
Why vaccines are absolutely necessary | Larry Brilliant | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7f681e7e08a6ac9cea06ae50e6bbd7b5"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ffiw6K3rjiU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>That leaves us in a bind: our brain simultaneously seeks novelty and is resistant to change. Installing a new app on your phone is easy. Discovering a cheaper phone that performs better than your current brand brings with it layers of anxiety. This low-stakes example is amplified when the same cognitive process plays out in life-or-death situations, as is the case in drug development.</p><p>Polidoro begins his article with one question: "How does knowledge about different technologies that exist in a domain affect the time it takes for regulatory agencies to review an innovation in that domain?" While drug discovery and development typically produces a high failure rate around the world, the FDA approves "the vast majority of new drug applications." This makes the agency an ideal case study for his question. </p><p>Polidoro focuses his research on the time between submission of a new drug application and FDA approval. Clinical trials have been conducted; the drug has met certain criteria. While we assume FDA approval implies that the drug works, journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/antidepressants-dangers" target="_self">recently explained to Big Think</a> that the process is not so clear-cut. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Let's say you have a drug that provides a relief of symptoms in 20 percent of people. In placebo it's 10 percent. How many people in that study do not benefit from the drug? Nine out of 10. How many people are exposed to the adverse effects of the drug? 100 percent. They'll pass that drug because it meets this small standard of benefit over placebo. And they're not subtracting the risk; they're just warning of the risk."</p><p>These data points shed light on the FDA's thought process: a drug only needs to perform better than placebo <em>and</em> the agency approves most new drugs. Inherent biases are already on display. Polidoro writes that innovative drugs are subject to another: new drugs take 75 percent longer to be approved when going up against popular pre-existing drugs. </p>
This picture taken on May 23, 2020 shows a laboratory technician holding a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand at Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi.
Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images<p>From a consumer perspective, this might make sense: if other drugs already perform the same function, why flood the market with new drugs? Of course, this has to be measured on a case-by-case basis. If the pre-existing drug has numerous side effects, and a new drug minimizes risk, you'd want that on the shelves sooner than later.</p><p>However, the reverse is also true, especially when patents are considered. Pharmaceutical companies are notorious for attempting to extend patents by changing a single molecule. Even such a seemingly small change can produce negative effects downstream. While the clinical trial threshold appears to be high, it's impossible to gauge long-term effects of any drug. We don't have decades to wait before releasing a drug to market. </p><p>Polidoro <a href="https://medium.com/texas-mccombs/new-era-requires-new-approach-to-drug-approvals-b814eae9418" target="_blank">describes</a> the trend succinctly: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Regulators search for solutions in the neighborhood of what they already know. They have a harder time when the next big thing emerges."</p><p>He expects the pipeline to approval for COVID-19 treatments or vaccines to run more smoothly than with past examples. The urgency will allow regulators to be less cautious in the hopes of helping the greatest number of people, a trend that could set a new precedent. "It may be more complicated for them at first," he concludes, "but in the long run, we will all be better off."</p><p>The scientific process will always be beholden to human habits. For now, it's the best process we have. Time will tell if Polidoro's optimism pans out. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
The program aims to notify people after they've come in close contact with someone who tested positive.
- The program currently involves 25,000 contract tracers who are capable of tracing 10,000 contacts per day.
- Participation in the program is voluntary, though officials said it may become mandatory if necessary.
- The program will eventually include a smartphone app that records who you've come in close proximity to.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY / Getty<p>Hancock said the program will be voluntary at first, but that the government will make it mandatory if "that's what it takes."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If we don't collectively make this work, the only way forward is to keep the lockdown," he said. "The more people who follow the instructions, the safer we can be and the faster we can lift the lockdown."</p><p>The NHS wants people who are experiencing symptoms to visit <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/" target="_blank">nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19</a>. The agency also wants to automate its Test and Trace program through the <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/05/27/nhs-app-covid-19-uk-coronavirus-track-trace/" target="_blank">NHS COVID-19 app</a>, which is currently being tested by more than 52,000 people on the Isle of Wight. If the test on the Isle of Wight is successful, the app is expected to be available for the rest of England in June.</p>
How the contact-tracing app works<p>The app doesn't ask for names or personal information, except for a partial postal code. Rather, each user's phone is assigned a randomized identifier number that's transmitted to a centralized database. The app doesn't do much else, besides ask users how they're feeling each day.</p><p>Other governments have already been using digital contact tracing apps to limit the spread of COVID-19. South Korea, for example, made a tracing app mandatory for new arrivals to the country, and people who violate quarantine are required to wear location-tracking bracelets. As of May 29, South Korea has reported less than 300 deaths. The U.K. has suffered <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-britain-casualties/uks-covid-19-death-toll-tops-40000-worst-in-europe-idUSKBN22O16T" target="_blank">more than 40,000</a>.</p>
Privacy concerns<p>Manual contact tracing has been used for decades to help contain viruses — the NHS describes it as a "tried and tested method used to slow down the spread of infectious diseases." But the prospect of digital contact tracing has <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/28/contact-tracing-apps-can-help-stop-coronavirus-they-can-hurt-privacy/" target="_blank">raised concerns for privacy advocates</a> who question how governments and private companies might use the technology. </p><p>Speaking about the new NHS app, Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), told <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/nhs-covid-19-tracking-app-contact-tracing" target="_blank">Wired U.K.</a>:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"In theory, that's a privacy risk, but it's only stored on the NHS app system and there's no way to link device 123456 to 'Ian Levy' or a particular place," Levy said. "If you discover that my app ID is 123456, there are some theoretical things you can do to try to understand my contacts if you've followed me round. But if you've followed me round, you've probably seen my contacts anyway."</p><p>In the U.S., federal officials haven't indicated that they're developing a national contact-tracing app. But several states — <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2020/05/20/alabama-north-dakota-and-south-carolina-to-debut-apple-and-googles-covid-19-contact-tracing/#4147ac591732" target="_blank">Alabama, North Dakota, and South Carolina</a> — are working individually with Apple and Google to implement their own contact-tracing apps. </p><p>Similar to the NHS app, Apple and Google's system uses Bluetooth signals to record when users come in close proximity with each other. The companies said their system won't collect users' personal information. </p><p><span></span>Apple and Google develop the contact-tracing apps themselves. Rather, they've made the technology available so that individual health agencies to do so. In addition to the three U.S. states, <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2020/05/20/alabama-north-dakota-and-south-carolina-to-debut-apple-and-googles-covid-19-contact-tracing/#49f900e1732e" target="_blank">22 countries have also signed on to use Apple and Google's system.</a></p>
Sheltering at home is anti-instinctual behavior. Yet doing so saves lives.
- Mental health disorders are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Lack of social contact is anti-instinctual behavior for humans, yet it is needed during this particular crisis.
- How we cope with social distancing and sheltering at home will in large part dictate how long this crisis lasts.
Why loneliness is a danger to individuals and societies | Andrew Horn<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="def4024cab9654f9d50136e68bf0a93a"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I5FIohjZT8o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lack of contact is driving loneliness during this pandemic. Health care workers are <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychological-trauma-is-the-next-crisis-for-coronavirus-health-workers/" target="_blank">experiencing an increase</a> in mental health conditions. Being on the front lines is emotionally taxing. But those forced to shelter at home, especially when living alone, are also facing <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/health/coronavirus-mental-health-long-term-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">increased anxiety and depression</a>.</p><p>An avoidance of social contact is an evolutionary mismatch, argue three researchers in a <a href="https://www.cell.com/pb-assets/products/coronavirus/CURBIO_16385.pdf" target="_blank">recent essay</a> published in the journal, Current Biology. Evolutionary biology dictates that we come together during times of crisis. We're social animals. The inability to make contact is frustrating and leads to trauma as self-isolation persists. </p><p>The authors (Guillaume Dezecache, Chris Frith, and Ophelia Deroy) write that the media is driving narratives counter to natural behavior. During tragedies, we tend to want to help others more than take care of ourselves. Empathy is our biological inheritance. The media, they write, has adopted a Hobbesian view of the world: every man for himself. </p><p>The focus on irrational hoarding of supplies is one example. While running from a fire is a natural reaction to danger, they note that our intuitive responses are cooperation, not selfishness. News outlets perpetuate problems by homing in on aberrant behavior. In fact, they drive the problem. We believe supplies are running short, creating this Hobbesian mentality: <em>I must hoard as well</em>. </p><p>This mindset seems worse in cities. As they write, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"In all likelihood, the mismatch between our misperception of the severity of the threat and its consequences is likely to become even more destructive in dense urban areas in which social isolation is a costly good."</p>
A man rests on an empty Staten Island Ferry on March 24, 2020 in New York City.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images<p>Then there's the flip side: refusing to social distance or shelter at home. Because the threat is invisible we tend to downplay the risks. This is in stark contrast to 9/11, in which more fearful minds associated<em> any</em> Muslim with terrorism. Fortunately, this trend was relatively rare in New York City, though anti-Islam sentiments exploded across the nation, usually in regions with less diverse cultures. </p><p>Sine we cannot see this virus, and therefore don't necessarily understand how it's transmitted or concern ourselves much if we're not in a high-risk group, we don't take precautions. The short-term benefit of contact might, however, fuel the long-term detriment of increased hospitalization and death. </p><p>Nonchalance isn't the only reason for such behavior. It might be something much more ingrained in us. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It is because our infection-avoidance mechanisms are overwhelmed by a much stronger drive to affiliate and seek close contact."</p><p>As the authors conclude, the more we can stave off loneliness for the greater good of society—at-risk populations, such as the elderly and immunodeficient; health care workers; supply chains providing hospitals with necessary resources; workers contracted to produce those supplies—dictates how we emerge on the other side of this pandemic. </p><p>Sadly, there is no easy response. Collectively we're facing a range of terrible outcomes. The best we can do is strive for the least tragic result. We passed <a href="https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/" target="_blank">60,000 deaths</a> in America today. How high that number climbs is in large part in our hands, yet keeping it low requires anti-instinctual behavior. That conundrum is shaping what our society will look like in the future. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
Human-challenge trials are not without risk, but they could speed up the process.
- 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.
Germany approves trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fe74512eeda9131768a527f3b522fbb2"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cx2nIW6wAfw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>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.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Many note that they recognize the risk but believe the benefits of vaccine acceleration are so tremendous that it is worth it to them."</p><p>1Day Sooner isn't the only organization looking for a vaccine. Two volunteers <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52394485" target="_blank">were just injected</a> with COVID-19 as part of a study at Oxford—the first of over 800 people that have signed off on being tested. </p><p>Meanwhile, volunteers at Kaiser Permanente's Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit in Seattle are undergoing their <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2020/04/22/second-round-shots-first-coronavirus-vaccine-test-start/3008506001/" target="_blank">second round of vaccination trials</a>. That study began on March 16. </p><p>Hong Kong's CanSino Biologies, in partnership with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, has also <a href="https://fortune.com/2020/04/13/who-70-coronavirus-vaccines-human-testing/" target="_blank">just entered phase 2</a> of their clinical trials. </p><p>Clinical trials at Beth Israel are planned to launch in September, with companies such as Johnson and Johnson <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/30/business/us-j-j-commit-1b-coronavirus-vaccine-co-developed-by-beth-israel/" target="_blank">dedicating $1 billion</a> to this research. </p><p>The World Health Organization announced its <a href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/solidarity-clinical-trial-for-covid-19-treatments" target="_blank">Solidarity Trial</a>, with over 100 countries participating in an effort to identify effective treatments as soon as possible. All told, the WHO announced <a href="https://fortune.com/2020/04/23/coronavirus-vaccine-update-who/" target="_blank">six coronavirus trials</a> that are currently underway, with <a href="https://fortune.com/2020/04/13/who-70-coronavirus-vaccines-human-testing/" target="_blank">over 70 planned</a> around the world. </p>
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<p>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 <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00927-3" target="_blank">worth the risk</a>. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"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."</p><p>Making a sacrifice is always a gamble, yet it points to the importance of a <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/five-lessons-from-coronavirus" target="_self">collectivist mindset</a>: It's not just about you, but everyone. These volunteers deserve a lot of respect for their service.</p><p>--</p><p><span></span><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>