During a trial, they would be quarantined and monitored closely, and if they became ill would receive the best known treatment — possibly the antiviral drug remdesivir, or convalescent plasma from people who had recovered from the illness. But so far, remdesivir’s benefits have been described as “modest,” and studies of convalescent plasma are still underway. The steroid dexamethasone lowered the death rate in one study, but is recommended only for those who become severely ill.
The article by Dr. Eyal’s group struck a chord with Josh Morrison, 34. Eight years ago, he donated a kidney to a stranger, and now runs an advocacy group for kidney donors. The opportunity to save someone else’s life meant a great deal to him, and he sees challenge trials as a chance to do it again.
“If it could lead to a speedier creation of a vaccine for the disease Covid-19, we are willing — without reservation — to have doctors infect us with the novel coronavirus,” he and Sophie Rose, 22, a graduate student in epidemiology, wrote in The Washington Post.
Mr. Morrison, who had a brief career as a corporate lawyer, has begun organizing others who are interested in volunteering into a group called 1DaySooner. So far, about 30,000 people from 140 countries have signed up online saying they might participate in a challenge trial. Donations of $700,000 have enabled him to hire three full-time staff members.
“There are significant risks in childbirth and kidney donation,” Mr. Morrison said in an interview. “No one should take them lightly but they are things we allow people to consent to. I hope for an effective treatment by the time a trial would be conducted, but if not, I do think it would be reasonable to go forward with challenge trials.”
His hope is that an established research center will conduct the trials. Much of his efforts have gone toward finding a company to produce batches of the virus for use in the studies.
“Our goal is not to manage the manufacturing process or trial process ourselves,” he said. “Our goal is to make the preconditions, so that if challenge trials would be useful, they’re available. ”