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Altruism – but also vulnerability – drive healthy volunteers to take part in clinical research

By Isabelle Remy-Jouet, Ethicienne, Membre du comité Éthique de l'Inserm, Mission DD&RS, Université d'Angers
François Eisinger, Professeur associé en santé publique, praticien hospitalier au centre de lutte contre le cancer Institut Paoli-Calmettes, Inserm
François Hirsch, Membre du comité d'éthique de l'Inserm, Inserm
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When UK authorities granted permission in October 2020 for the first controlled infection study to be carried out to test the anti-Covid-19 vaccine Oxford University had just developed, reactions ranged from disbelief to disapproval.

Yet this type of experiment, which exposes healthy volunteers to an infection to assess the efficacy of a vaccine or treatment (it is sometimes called a

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