From the Lab Bench to the Battlefield: Novel Vaccine Technologies and Informed Consent [BOOK CHAPTER]

From the Lab Bench to the Battlefield: Novel Vaccine Technologies and Informed Consent [BOOK CHAPTER]
Paul Eagan, Sheena M. Eagan
Ethics of Medical Innovation, Experimentation, and Enhancement in Military and Humanitarian Contexts
Springer, 18 March 2020; pp 69-85
Vaccines are a commonly used medical countermeasure against many infectious diseases and represent one of the tools used by militaries to maintain a healthy fighting force. Vaccines also constitute an essential intervention during humanitarian missions where contagious disease outbreaks can be the primary cause of the crisis or a by-product of social upheaval and natural disaster. Though many infectious diseases are recurrent problems and vaccines exist to address the threat, recent outbreaks of H1N1, Ebola, and Zika have brought to the forefront the inherent inadequacies of traditional vaccine development. New technologies such as nucleic acid-based therapies provide some hope for a more rapid and robust response capability. The potential acceleration of the vaccine development pipeline carries both opportunities and potential pitfalls. The use of immune enhancement technologies, experimental immunization protocols or unproven vaccines in military personnel or vulnerable populations during times of crisis brings to the forefront ethical issues concerning the adequacy of informed consent, human experimentation, and free choice. An overview of novel vaccine technologies is followed by an analysis of the ethical issues surrounding informed consent and human experimentation in vulnerable military and civilian populations.

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