The American Josh Morrison, 34, has created the association 1DaySooner, on march 26. This non-profit organization that promotes a platform for the recruitment of volunteers willing to participate in the clinical testing of prototype vaccines against the Covid-19. To The Point, this former lawyer explains how was born this project. And what he can bring to the scientific research...
The Point : How is born the idea of your association ?
Josh Morrisson, 34, is the co-founder of the association 1DaySooner. © DR Josh Morrison : Like everyone else, I was swept the epidemic of Covid-19, and the first question I asked was : "What can I do against this problem ? "I am not a doctor but a lawyer [he was trained at Columbia university and Harvard, editor's NOTE]. On the 25th of march, during the night, I sent to a handful of friends, an e-mail to suggest them to create an association that would hasten the commercialization of a vaccine against this virus. In 2014, I had already founded another association in order to encourage organ donations and especially kidney (the movement of Wait List Zero). I recontacted the scientific partners of this initiative to know how to proceed. With Sophie Rose, who is a researcher on infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins university (Baltimore), who also studied at Oxford, we thought it would be useful to create a platform of information on the clinical tests on humans : what is known in English under the name of "Human Challenge" Trials " or HCT. This is what we have done.
The idea is to shorten the most possible time
Why this platform seemed to you necessary ?
All vaccines go through a phase of tests on the man. The first of them, developed the smallpox vaccine, has been tested by Edward Jenner on his gardener, James Phipps, in 1796. The flu vaccine, invented in 1937, has been developed by volunteers who have agreed that they inoculate the prototype formulas of vaccines. Same thing for the cholera, the typhoid, dengue fever, or the virus Zika !
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Your association recruits, therefore, of human guinea pigs for scientific research...
For the moment, we have created a website on which we allow volunteers to leave their contact details if they agree to participate in experiments and, possibly, programs of clinical tests of new molecules. The idea is to shorten the most possible time between the moment when scientists discover an antidote and the time when we will be able to disseminate to the largest number (hence the name of the association " 1DaySooner ", which means " a day earlier ", because every day gained can save lives).
How many people have responded to your call ?
At the time when I speak to you... a little more than 14 000 individuals from over one hundred countries around the world are registered on our platform.
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Which countries are most represented in your listing ?
The Brazil with 6 500 candidates and the United States (5,000 registrants) arrive at the head. Next comes the India with 400 volunteers. Our database does not account for the time, about thirty French. We recontactons, one by one, each of the nominees to ask them if they measure what they expose themselves to potentially. It is not neutral to participate in a clinical test.
This may surprise you, but the idea of earning money is not the first motivation. Candidates evoke rather the desire to participate in a collective adventure that will protect their loved ones. They want to feel useful, they tell us. From our side, we are not approaching the issues of financial compensation as long as the protocols of experimentation are not stopped.
health professionals are over-represented
A decade of clinical tests have begun around the world : China and the United States first, and then in the Uk and in Germany recently. Have you been approached by labs ?
It is we who have taken the initiative to solicit some labs, but it is a bit early to say more. Nothing is, to date, been finalized. We expect that the health authorities will validate the testing programs to which we will address the volunteers. If I summarize our project, we will create a directory in which the research teams will be able to draw to select the most interesting profiles for their work.
What is the typical profile of candidates who register on your site ?
These are mainly young people between 18 and 35 years old. But we also have older applicants. Some of which are nearly 80 years old ! These are men and women who wish to invest in their way in this fight that is the fight against the pandemic. Often these are people with an academic background interesting. The health professionals there are, for example, over-represented.
Are you, yourself, voluntarily ?
Yes. I don't know if my profile will be retained. I am 34 years old. And I gave one of my kidneys before starting my association Waitlist Zero which promotes the idea that the living can also donate organs.
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What was your motivation for giving a kidney. Help someone in your family ?
I have not given my kidney to a member of my family, but a stranger. In this journey, I have without doubt been influenced by my education. I was raised in a family where we think we can really change the world by contributing to help his neighbor. I, also, read a lot, the philosopher Peter Singer. I wanted to put my actions in line with some of my ideas.
to return to the association 1DaySooner, what is the next stage of its development ?
We verify that our candidates are serious. Some of the entries seem to us to be fanciful. Thus, we also find the name of Donald Trump in our database. We recontactons, by cohort of twenty to thirty people, volunteers to pre-qualify their records. We will shortly send questionnaires developed by the research laboratories of several universities, including NorthEastern in Boston, or Georgetown in Washington.
Are there, in the world, other initiatives similar to yours ?
It seems to me that we are the first. But, since a week, a website has been created in Germany. We also plan to launch a similar site in Brazil.