Seth Berkley On Animal Testing

Seth Berkley:  HIV is a disease of humans. Even though it’s a virus that came out of chimpanzees, chimpanzees don’t get sick from it. So at the end of the day, the only way we’re ever going to be able to create a vaccine or even create better drugs is to test it in humans. It has to be. Now, up until that point, you can do a lot of studies to presume to see if they’re safe in animals. You can look for protection in animals. You can study them in detail for toxicity. You can do all kinds of things to make sure it’s safe but at the end, it has to be in humans to find protection. If we could create an animal model that was validated -- what do I mean by that? -- that we really knew correlated exactly with humans, then we could test them in animals. But until you have that animal model that’s validated, humans are the only place you can go, so it has to be tested in humans. For me, there’s not really an ethical challenge. In a sense, what we’re trying to do is create better drugs, better treatments, vaccines ultimately that are going to protect people, that are going to protect large amounts of the population. So what we have to do is be careful that there’s informed consent, be careful that we work with people that understand that there’s going to be benefit for them if these come out. But at the end of the day, it’s amazing how many people have volunteered for these trials and the interest they have to do that in an altruistic fashion but also ultimately in a fashion to help themselves as well. So there hasn’t been really a problem in terms of getting people to engage and volunteer for this.

The only way we're ever going to be able to create a vaccine or even create better drugs is to test it in humans.

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