Health care workers in Brazil have volunteered to test some of the most promising experimental vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic.
The medical staff who work in facilities treating patients infected by the virus, have volunteered to test the experimental vaccines on themselves because they are the most likely to come into contact with it, enabling researchers to run a controlled experiment to see how well it works.
“I want to contribute, and this is my contribution — through science,” said pediatrician Monica Levi, one of 5,000 volunteers in Brazil helping test one of the most promising vaccines so far, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
According to AFP Levi, 53, works at the Specialized Clinic for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and Immunizations (Cedipi) in Sao Paulo, the epicenter of the outbreak in Brazil, where more than 2.5 million people have been infected so far, with more than 90,000 deaths.
“Vaccination is my cause. So I have to act on my beliefs,” she told AFP.
Last week, Brazil also became the first country carrying out Phase 3 trials of Chinese vaccine CoronaVac, developed by pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech.
Phase 3 clinical trials involve large-scale testing on humans, the last step before vaccines seek regulatory approval.
Medical workers play the starring role in testing that vaccine, too.
Volunteers must be between 18 and 55 years old, work in a patient care role and have no underlying medical conditions.
Half the volunteers in the Oxford trial are receiving the vaccine and the other half a placebo.But they will only know which a year from now.
Brazil is the country with the second-highest number of infections and deaths in the pandemic, after the United States, and the virus is still spreading quickly here.