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I promise I'm not going to start spamming the forums every week to badger you about getting a different exotic disease (see the post about Zika). But I was accepted into this study in Baltimore,[1] which you can sort of think of as a part-time job fighting malaria from January to early March-ish.[2] I figured some of you may be interested as well. (Please let me know if you sign up for pre-screening! I am always happy to talk about things in more detail if you have questions.)

If you're not in the DMV, 1Day Sooner keeps track of potentially high-impact studies on our website and via our newsletter; sign up if you want to hear about hot, single challenge trials recruiting in YOUR area in the future.

The following is a condensed version of what's outlined in this informal document. Obligatory disclosure: Neither I nor my org, 1Day Sooner, represent the study. I'm just excited about it :)

 Why would an EA consider this? Malaria is bad and the vaccine in this trial could result in nontrivial decreases in malaria mortality. What it comes down to is whether the costs — especially time commitment — make sense for you specifically.  As the expanded document discusses, the risks of serious complications are very, very low. 

You'll be screened to make sure you're not at any elevated risk, and treatment will be initiated very quickly after you contract malaria (if you do at all). So if you do feel like you have the bandwidth for a part-time malaria-fighting job (remote work capability pretty much necessary), this is a good tangible way to make a difference. Also, you'll get paid. And you'll become friends with me, and I am very fun to be around, in my opinion.

30-second trial summary: A malaria vaccine candidate with solid chance of eventual deployment in pregnant women needs to undergo this challenge trial being held by U Maryland — Baltimore's Center for Vaccine Development. It's outpatient. The burden of time will very likely be more than the burden of actually being sick. I will be in it, and other EAs and 1Day Sooner volunteers have expressed interest. Compensation runs up to $3,845. 1Day Sooner can help ease burdens of participation, especially transport from DC. 

Slightly expanded summary:

  • A promising malaria vaccine, PfSPZ, needs to be tested as a key step in licensure as a traveler's vaccine, which in turn will support eventual deployment among pregnant women. 
    • This vaccine will not be the final cure humanity has been waiting for. It is most promising for use during pregnancy. 
    • There is never a guarantee a vaccine candidate will be successful, nor successfully deployed. It may well be that PfSPZ works well, but in a few years another vaccine turns out to be even better. 
  • The primary burden is time rather than discomfort, i.e., being sick with malaria for at most a few days, but also lots of blood draws. I have a rough estimate of hours spent in this spreadsheet
    • Low estimate for time spent if you are from DC (transit, visits, other lost productive time): 60-70 hours. High estimate: 90-100.  
    • For Baltimoreans, probably more like 45-65 hours.
    • A few of these hours can be productive, like on a train or waiting around at some of the longer visits.
  • Vaccination begins in January (specific dates to be announced shortly). There are three doses spaced out across one month. The vaccine has already been tested rather extensively for safety, it is very well tolerated. Three weeks after the final dose, we will be challenged with malaria. One-fourth of the participants will get a placebo injection.
  • One week after the malaria challenge, we will begin going into the clinic in Baltimore for short, daily blood tests in the morning. Treatment will be administered ASAP after malaria is detected, definitely within ~18-24 hours maximum after detection, if not sooner.
  • I and one other 1Day Sooner volunteer are already registered. 6 others have expressed serious interest (4 EAs, two others). To make things easier, we will be arranging an AirBnb. Details will be finalized as enrollment is solidified. 

Again, for even more info, see this document. If you'd like, sign up for a pre-screening phone call here, and let me know if you do! Otherwise, I'm happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability. As always, the doctors and researchers involved in the study will be the final word, and you'll be briefed by them before you are allowed to enroll. 

  1. ^

    As mentioned in the Zika post, 1Day employees are not required to get exotic diseases as a condition of employment, because that would be insane, and also probably illegal. I want to do this of my own accord, I swear. 

  2. ^

    Total duration is 6-8 months, but that includes a very small number of follow up visits months after challenge. The majority of visits will take place within about an 8-12 week window starting in January.

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Thanks for posting these! It’s helpful both as a nudge to participate and as a way of keeping up with human challenge trials research.

Great work. I got malaria in 2016 for a clinical trial of a novel anti-malarial (results published here). I was paid AUD$2880 and gave it all to the Against Malaria Foundation. It's one of the best things I've ever done.

It's great that you know the results. While relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, it's frustrating that trials, at least here in the US, don't often share results with participants, even though it's theoretically as simple as a mass email along the lines of "here's what we learned" — presumably an email they're already sending to colleagues, funders, etc., in some  form. I had to ask the people running the Shigella trial for my data (not available yet, but I really wanna see if I got the placebo or not)! 

Post summary (feel free to suggest edits!):
There is a paid opportunity to be part of a Malaria vaccine trial in Baltimore from January to early March. The vaccine has a solid chance of being deployed for pregnant women if it passes this challenge trial. It’s ~55 hours time commitment if in Baltimore or more if needing to travel, and the risk of serious complications is very low. The author signed up, and knows 6 others who have expressed serious interest. Get in touch with questions or to join an AirBnB the author is setting up for it.

(If you'd like to see more summaries of top EA and LW forum posts, check out the Weekly Summaries series.)

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