The NY Times does a piece on some people freelancing on virus vaccines…
Each D.I.Y. effort is motivated, at least in part, by the same idea: Exceptional times demand exceptional actions. If scientists have the skills and gumption to assemble a vaccine on their own, the logic goes, they should do it. Defenders say that as long as they are measured about their claims and transparent about their process, we could all benefit from what they learn.
But critics say that no matter how well-intentioned, these scientists aren’t likely to learn anything useful because their vaccines are not being put to the true test of randomized and placebo-controlled studies. What’s more, taking these vaccines could cause harm — whether from serious immune reactions and other side effects, or offering a false sense of protection.
“Take it yourself and there is not much anyone can or should do,” said Jeffrey Kahn, the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. But once a person starts encouraging other people to try an unproven vaccine, “you’re headed right back to the days of patent medicine and quackery,” he said, referring to a time when remedies were widely sold with colorful but misleading promises.
The RaDVac vaccine effort, first reported on by MIT Technology Review, is different from Mr. Stine’s project in two important ways. No one involved plans to charge for the vaccine. And unlike Mr. Stine’s expletive-laden Facebook rants, RaDVaC has a 59-page scientific document to explain how it works and to guide others who might want to mix up the vaccine formulation on their own.
“The white paper is quite impressive,” said Avery August, an immunologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., who is not involved with RaDVaC.
But the impetus of both projects is similar. In March, as PrestonEstep, a genome scientist who lives in the Boston area, was reading about people dying amid the pandemic, he vowed not to sit complacently on the sidelines. He emailed some chemists, biologists, professors and doctors he knew to see whether any were interested in creating their own vaccine. Soon they had devised a formula for a peptide vaccine that could be administered through a spritz in the nose.
“It’s very simple,” Dr. Estep said. “It consists of five ingredients you could mix together in a physician’s office.”…