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In science, as in other fields of endeavor, success can have unexpected consequences.
Take the debut of 2 highly efficacious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines more quickly than anticipated.
The situation has spurred debate about the ethics, let alone the feasibility, of continuing or launching blinded, placebo-controlled trials—generally considered the gold standard of medical research—of investigational COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is unprecedented and took almost everybody by surprise,” bioethicist David Wendler, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, said in an interview.
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In regularly consulting with Operation Warp Speed—the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine accelerator—Wendler said, he couldn’t recall anyone suggesting that 1 vaccine, let alone 2, would demonstrate 95% efficacy against symptomatic disease by December 2020.
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