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Covid-19 vaccine trials and ethics: Protection delayed is protection denied

T Jacob John, Dhanya Dharmapalan

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2020.104


The Covid-19 pandemic is raging, taking heavy toll of lives and livelihoods. The need for safe and effective vaccine(s) is urgent. Vaccine research has progressed rapidly and a few vaccine candidates have passed trial Phases 1 and 2, confirming reasonable safety and immunogenicity parameters. They are ready for large scale Phase 3 trials to quantify protective efficacy, if any, and to detect uncommon but serious adverse effects, if any.
These developments present unprecedented opportunities and challenges, scientific and ethical. Globally hundreds die every day due to Covid-19, and emergency/compassionate use of vaccine candidates that are ready for Phase 3 trials are likely to save lives. We perceive an ethical imperative to allow such vaccination for those at high risk of death and voluntarily make such informed choice – for them protection delayed will be tantamount to protection denied.

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