Controlled human infection models for vaccine development: Zika virus debate

Vijayaprasad Gopichandran

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2017.093


Abstract

An ethics panel, convened by the National Institute of Health and other research bodies in the USA, disallowed researchers from the Johns Hopkins University and University of Vermont from performing controlled human infection of healthy volunteers to develop a vaccine against Zika virus infection. The members published their ethical analysis and recommendations in February 2017. They have elaborated on the risks posed by human challenge with Zika virus to the volunteers and other uninvolved third parties and have systematically analysed the social value of such a human challenge experiment. They have also posited some mandatory ethical requirements which should be met before allowing the infection of healthy volunteers with the Zika virus. This commentary elaborates on the debate on the ethics of the human challenge model for the development of a Zika virus vaccine and the role of systematic ethical analysis in protecting the interests of research participants. It further analyses the importance of this debate to the development of a Zika vaccine in India.

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