With confirmed COVID-19 cases topping six million worldwide, pharmaceutical companies are in a race to develop a vaccine. One of the many obstacles to overcome is finding volunteers for the clinical trials that must take place to confirm the efficacy and safety of potential vaccines. In April 2020, we conducted a global survey to determine the drivers behind people’s willingness – and unwillingness – to participate in a vaccine study.
The struggle to find volunteers for vaccine-related clinical trials is not unique to the novel coronavirus. The survey, with respondents from four countries, shows that while 85 percent of respondents agree that vaccines are safe and effective and save lives, only 40 percent say they would be likely to participate in a vaccine trial. This huge gap must be bridged if pharmaceutical companies are to find the 750,000+ volunteers needed for more than 150 Phase 2-3 vaccine studies being conducted worldwide today for diseases including COVID-19, dengue, HIV, HPV, influenza and malaria.
Uncertainty about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines tops the list of concerns people have when it comes to participating in a vaccine trial personally. This concern was identified by almost half of all survey respondents. For instance, people expressed fear of side effects or stated that existing health conditions would prevent their participation.
The good news is that people are strongly motivated to participate in trials because of their sense of social responsibility and a desire to help others. For example, in the United States, 61 percent of respondents said that potentially preventing the spread of an epidemic in their community would encourage them to volunteer for a vaccine study.
To find the vaccines that are needed to save lives from dangerous and deadly viruses, it is critical to speak directly to the diverse drivers that play into people’s decisions on whether to participate in a clinical trial. Read the full survey results here to gain practical insights on how to recruit motivated, willing volunteers for infectious disease vaccine studies.