How do you engage members of the public with medical research? Dr Emma Smith, HIC-Vac Network Manager, outlines how consulting the public was crucial during the world’s first COVID-19 human challenge study.
It is important that health and social care research aims to improve the overall well-being of the population, from advancing treatments for patients to helping us live healthier lives. People are at the heart of medical research and so engaging and involving them is an integral part of the research process and one that is mandated by most funders.
When we set up the world’s first COVID-19 human challenge study, acceptability of research to participants and society more broadly was particularly relevant because of the study’s ethically complex nature.
With volunteer participants being deliberately exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) and the associated risk (albeit very small) of serious illness or death, the public’s perspectives were an important element of assessing if the study was acceptable and ethical (and was stated by the WHO1 as one of the key criteria for the ethical acceptability of COVID-19 human challenge). (more…)