The Ethics of Human Challenge Trials Using Emerging Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 2 Variants

Abie Rohrig, Nir Eyal

Publication Date: 10/08/2021

Abstract: The world’s first coronavirus disease 2019 human challenge trial using the D614G strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is underway in the United Kingdom. The Wellcome Trust is funding challenge stock preparation of the Beta and Delta variant for a follow-up human challenge trial, and researchers at hVIVO are considering conducting these trials. However, little has been written thus far about the ethical justifiability of human challenge trials with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. We explore 2 specific characteristics of some variants that may initially be thought to make such trials unethical and conclude that SARS-CoV-2 variant challenge trials can remain ethical.