Vaccines, drugs, and other cures for illnesses usually take years to develop. When the vaccine for mumps was developed in four years, it was the fastest vaccine developed yet. On the other hand, the chickenpox vaccine took 28 years to be developed. But that was considered normal back then.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is the fastest to be created. Still, before its development, the disease had already affected and killed millions. As soon as it was declared a pandemic, pharmaceutical companies all over the world called for volunteers for vaccine trials. Thanks to their hard work, the vaccines received emergency use authorizations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in less than a year.
The vaccine and clinical trials also allowed scientists to discover lifesaving treatments against COVID-19. They immediately gave them to doctors and confined patients, thereby increasing the recovery rate for COVID-19.
To some people, volunteering in clinical trials is just another way to earn money. But for the medical industry, communities, and entire countries, it’s the key to curing and preventing more diseases.
Volunteerism Gets Treatments Closer to Patients
Volunteering helps the medical industry bring treatments closer to patients, who could be your loved ones. It is especially helpful if the disease being cured is rare, like genetic disorders. If you have a loved one suffering from such a condition, your volunteerism can help doctors understand the disease further and discover what treats it.
Sadly, 37% of clinical trials don’t enroll enough volunteers, hindering their progress. Hence, explore amazing study volunteer opportunities in your community. Your volunteerism may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t let the opportunity pass if it presents itself.
Volunteerism Moves Science Forward
Since the goal of clinical trials is to test if specific treatments work, volunteers help move science forward. They help turn theories into facts or debunk health myths. Moreover, volunteers can help prevent or control endemic diseases. For example, if the vaccine for polio weren’t created, the number of children developing the disease would continue to grow. Similarly, if we didn’t have vaccines for typhoid fever, Diptheria, influenza A and B, and more, scientific research about those diseases wouldn’t be as advanced as it is today.
Volunteerism Helps Make Patients’ Lives Better
Patients suffering from incurable diseases may feel hopeless or discouraged to get better. But if studies about their conditions are held, they’d feel included in the field of medical research. As a result, they would feel an improvement in their lives. Even if the trials don’t end up creating a cure, at least, they’d be aware that their conditions are being addressed with volunteers.
People who volunteer in clinical trials also cite this as their reason for volunteering. They want to help improve patients’ lives and help their sick family or friends.
Volunteers Can Help Find New Purposes for Existing Drugs
During the clinical trials for COVID-19, scientists also experimented on various drugs to see if they could treat COVID-19. What they discovered was that some drugs that were initially developed for another disease might work against COVID-19.
One such drug was remdesivir (Veklury). It was meant to be a drug for Ebola. Volunteers in Africa who tested this drug in 2014 through 2015 helped COVID-19 researchers discover that remdesivir could treat the coronavirus.
As such, in the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) Program, one of the first initiatives was to examine existing drugs for their potential to cure COVID-19.
In clinical trials, it was found that remdesivir, when administered via infusion, could indeed stop the coronavirus from replicating in hospitalized adults and children at least 12 years old. These findings led to remdesivir being officially approved by the FDA as a drug for COVID-19.
Volunteers Get Access to New Treatments Before the Public Does
Of course, volunteers are also rewarded for their sacrifice and courage. They are given early access to cutting-edge or new treatments before everybody else does. This may encourage them to take care of their health more. After all, it’s already difficult as it is to get “normal” access to healthcare services. If you can get advanced access, then it’s a benefit you can’t simply take for granted.
In addition, if volunteers need treatment, the researchers may give them medical care and more frequent check-ups. Not many people are privileged enough for those, so if you were given a chance to volunteer, consider grabbing it. The opportunity may not come again.
Without volunteers, no clinical trials would happen. And without clinical trials, we wouldn’t have reliable treatments and cures for all diseases. You don’t have to be a healthcare expert to help. Use your right to volunteer, and you can be part of medical breakthroughs and milestones.