DIY COVID-19 vaccines could dishearten trust in science, experts warn

Efforts to create homemade COVID-19 vaccines could further deter the public's trust in science and clinical research, according to an article published Aug. 28 in Science.

The paper, authored by two bioethics professors from New York City-based New York University, warns against the perils of homemade vaccines, which do not undergo peer review processes and therefore, they say, have uncertain efficacies and risks.

The authors, Arthur Caplan, PhD, and Alison Bateman-House, PhD, draw attention to Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative, a recently emerged group focused on creating and sharing a vaccine recipe people can make and administer in their homes. The group, whose website says many of its members "are trained scientists and engineers," is actively encouraging use of its homemade concoction.

"The DIY RaDVaC initiative is far more likely to contribute to growing public mistrust of all vaccines than it is to provide a path forward to combating the pandemic," the authors wrote. "Those who are increasingly mistrustful of all the talk of 'warp speed' in promising a COVID-19 vaccine are hardly going to be encouraged to change their minds by rogue scientists experimenting with no oversight at the fringes of what is ethically acceptable."

The authors also highlighted public trust in science as an increasingly important issue during the pandemic, as "nearly half" of all people recently surveyed in the United States and United Kingdom reported they would refuse vaccination if it became available. 

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