‘What if we had this vaccine sooner? People may be scared but if everyone was too scared to try something new then nothing would happen. Progress would stop.”
This is the attitude that led Sian Rogers to willingly be infected with both typhoid and Ebola, as part of scientific studies in the UK.
As told in a report on independent.co.uk, Rogers, who is a third year law student at Oxford Brookes University, participated in Salmonella Typhi vaccine tests for the Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG).
The studies are aimed at bettering the methods that science has to combat typhoid.
Most people would be terrified to come even within inches of an illness like the terrible T and their fears came true when Rogers fell sick two weeks after being infected with the bacteria.
“I started feeling woozy on the Monday and I just put it down to a busy day and having blood taken. But, by Tuesday, I could barely get out of bed,” she wrote.
Thankfully, medical teams in studies such as these are ready for trying times, and expect such bad results. Fortunately, Rogers was injected with antibiotics right away, and was soon feeling herself again.
In her eyes, it was a small price to pay for helping science to evolve, and for the approximately $4000 USD she received in compensation for participating.
The money, which is given out by the university, is said to cover the time spent by participants attending visits, giving blood and missing work.
But still, was she scared by the whole ordeal? Rogers says she put her trust in OVG and felt safe as the group “tells you everything about what’s going to happen” beforehand.
Any fear that Rogers may have felt was also offset by the idea that she likely was helping to save lives, which is something that seems to be a growing trend in her life.
As a woman with truly no apprehension, Rogers was also paid around $700 USD for being injected with Ebola.
She admits that the virus was ‘dead’ and that only a small amount, which was modified not to spread throughout her body, was injected, but it’s enough to give most anyone the willies.
Dr Matthew Snape, the scientist who led the Ebola trial, said the participation of the hundreds of volunteers in scientific studies was “a crucial component” of responding to the Ebola crisis.
He added: “Participants received vaccines based on inactivated, non-Ebola, viruses modified so they express a key Ebola protein. These have been designed to be a safe way to teach the immune system how to respond to the Ebola virus, without any exposure to it.”
“The results from numerous studies in Oxford have been very encouraging, and allowed the rapid progression to further studies of these vaccines in Africa.”
A spokesperson from Oxford University said that participants such as Rogers are providing the world with ‘vital information’ about diseases and how to beat them.
The Ebola outbreak in Africa, which started in 2013, has killed more than 11,000 people to date.
Typhoid occurs most often in children and young adults between 5 and 19 years old.
Today, with prompt treatment, the case fatality rate for the illness is less than 1% but in 2013, contraction of the bacteria still resulted in about 161,000 deaths worldwide.