Infectious disease emergencies are opportunities to test the efficacy of newly developed interventions—for example, drugs, vaccines, and treatment regimens. Yet they raise many intertwined challenges around politics, logistics, ethics, and study design. It is essential to advance the discussion of how such products can and should be tested while remaining consistent with the efforts of CEPI, WHO, and others who encourage development and testing of candidate vaccines in advance of emergencies. This can help disentangle ethical from political and logistical concerns, reduce the time pressure to make a decision, and encourage rational deliberation by future stakeholders who at the time of deliberation do not know what role (which product, which field site) they may be supporting in an actual emergency.
In this talk, Professor Marc Lipsitch describes his work on computer simulation of vaccine trials during epidemics to assess options for trial design, as well as some of his recent work on the ethics of trials in emergencies, and stimulates discussion on the intersection of these two topics to help disentangle ethical from political and logistical concerns, as well as to reduce the time pressure to make a decision and encourage rational deliberation by future stakeholders.