Abstract: There is a dire need to produce a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as
possible to avert an enormous burden of morbidity and mortality. This need for speed has thus
far resulted in significant deviations from standard approaches to vaccine research and regulatory
approval. Yet, pandemics do not obviate the need for rigorous scientific evaluation of potential
interventions and adherence to universal ethical standards. Consequently, steps taken to
accelerate clinical research in the context of the current pandemic require an explicit ethical
justification, particularly if we expect public trust in the vaccine. We argue that accelerating
COVID-19 vaccine research can be ethically justified, but only if social value, scientific validity,
and a favourable risk-benefit ratio can be maintained or enhanced when doing so.

This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust through funding to PHEPREN, in addition to
the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (#C150-20 2019-11). PHEPREN funding




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