Research Ethics Roundup: failure to disclose conflicts, ethics of human challenge trials, and more

This edition of Research Ethics Roundup covers study authors failing to disclose conflict of interest, ethics of COVID-19 human challenge trials, a Moderna trial volunteer objecting to their business practices, and the upcoming vote on the Swiss animal testing ban

Analysis of JAMA and NEJM articles finds most authors failed to disclose conflicts
STAT | Ed Silverman

A new (preprint) study in medRxiv found that more than four in five authors who published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American Medical Association failed to fully disclose payments to the degree they are required to do so, per guidelines from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. The analysis suggests that “[relying] on individuals [to take] the initiative to disclose financial ties…should increasingly be seen as a failed approach.”

Opinion: Should researchers deliberately infect people with covid?
Washington Post | Brian Klaas

Since the pandemic’s early days, commentators have called for human challenge trials to develop better vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. (In June of 2020, PRIM&R pushed back against these calls, citing that not enough is known about the disease to ethically justify deliberate infection.) Here in the Washington Post, Klass argues that increased knowledge about the disease, alongside better treatments and emerging viral variants, “we would be unwise to unilaterally disarm ourselves by discarding one of the most effective weapons against future pandemics.”

Confessions of a ‘human guinea pig’: Why I’m resigning from Moderna vaccine trials
STAT | Jeremy Menchik

In this piece, an opinion contributor to STAT describes his initial eagerness to participate in a trial for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, followed by his disappointment that the company has not done more to make its technology more broadly available. Participation in the trial was “scary, painful, and exhausting,” Menchik writes, but he was happy to do so to help with what he believed to be a way to end the pandemic. However, the company’s reticence to share its technology with other global entities represents, in Menchik’s eyes, merely “maximizing its profits” rather than “going all out to end the pandemic as quickly as possible.”

Switzerland to vote again on animal testing ban
SwissInfo | Marie Vuilleumier

In February, for the fourth time since 1985, Swiss citizens will be asked via direct vote whether they wish for animal research to remain legal within that nation’s borders. The measure would ban all testing on animals, including biomedical research, in addition to the importation of technology that has been developed using such testing. It is opposed by academic institutions and the Swiss government itself; opponents maintain that Switzerland has animal protection legislation that “is one of the strictest and most comprehensive in the world.”