THUNDER BAY - A local MP continues to push the federal government to allow challenge trials in an effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine sooner.
Emergency room physician and Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski presented a petition in the House of Commons and is asking the government to publically announce a plan for COVID-19 human challenge trials.
The petition was launched by the advocacy group 1Day Sooner and has received 543 signatures from across Canada.
“I am very proud of the work 1Day Sooner has done advocating for the use of human challenge trials, not just in Canada, but around the world,” Powlowski said in a statement.
“They understand how important it is that we obtain a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible for the preservation of human life and the prevention of further economic devastation during this pandemic. Young people from across Canada are ready to step-up to serve their country in our war against COVID-19, and I would hope that Canada’s leaders are willing to heed their call.”
Powlowski has been a vocal advocate for COVID-19 challenge trials and said earlier in the summer that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Challenge trials involve testing potential vaccines in young, healthy adults, and then purposely exposing them to COVID-19 to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccination. The test group would consist of volunteers between the ages of 18 and 25.
“We are very grateful for the support shown by MP Powlowski on this important issue. With COVID-19 sweeping across the world and causing the deaths of thousands per day, it is essential we use human challenge trials to speed vaccine testing, especially for poor countries that maybe outbid for the first vaccines,” said 1Day Sooner representative Alexandre Rodgers.
“Participating in a human challenge trial poses less risk to young healthy people than living kidney donations, a commonly accepted medical procedure. We hope that Canadian researchers embrace the altruism of over 1,700 Canadians who have already volunteered for these trials.”
The petition was launched on Sept. 18, closed on Oct. 18 and was sponsored by Powlowski in order to be presented in the House of Commons.
“COVID-19 human challenge trials would quickly narrow the field of promising vaccines and answer essential biological questions about COVID-19, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives,” the petition reads in part.
“Human challenge trials have been indispensable to our understanding of other infectious diseases, like malaria, cholera, and influenza, and would similarly offer an unprecedented level of insight into COVID-19.”
The petition goes on to say that 1,600 Canadians have already volunteered to participate in COVID-19 challenge trials.