She is on the cover page of the October 21, 2020 issue of the French newspaper Le Parisien. Lauren Thomas, 2019-2020 laureate of the Fulbright program, studied economics in Lyon, where she faced the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. What she lived through at the time inspired her desire to do something to combat the devasting effects of the virus.
Now studying data science at Oxford University, she is one of 38,000 volunteers worldwide who have indicated interest through advocacy organization 1DaySooner in participating in a coronavirus challenge trial, in which volunteers would be injected with a trial vaccine and deliberately exposed to coronavirus, in order to reduce the time required to obtain more effective vaccines against the virus. Since June, she has also aided 1DaySooner in their media outreach and organization of potential volunteers. Thanks in large part to their efforts, the British government has recently announced financial support for a COVID challenge trial run by Imperial College London, the Royal Free Hospital, and hVivo.
“I have total faith in the protocol…I am doing this for my parents, my grandparents. I want to be useful to humanity,” Lauren replied to the journalist when asked about her motivations to put herself forward as a potential volunter. Nonetheless, the article reminds readers that the Scientific Council in France came out against such trials, opposing the inoculation of the virus to volunteers until a reliable antidote can be found.
Lauren knows such trials entail real—but hopefully minimal—risk. Her family fully supports her choice. The clinical trial should start in January, pending ethical approval.