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While a human challenge study holds the prospect of accelerating the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, it may be opposed due to risks of harm to participants and researchers. Given the increasing number of human deaths and severe disruption to lives worldwide, we argue that a SARS-CoV-2 challenge study is ethically justifiable as its social value substantially outweighs the risks. Such a study should therefore be seriously considered as part of the global research response towards the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we contribute to the debate by addressing the misperception that a challenge study for the coronavirus would lower scientific and ethical standards for vaccine research and development, and examine how it could be ethically conducted. We also set out information that needs to be disclosed to prospective participants to obtain their consent.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





5085 - 5088


Coronavirus, Covid-19, Ethics, Human challenge study, Pandemic, Vaccine