If you were thinking of getting 10 or 12 days off from work and get some extra money or a nice hotel room, then look for nothing else than the ‘Hotel Influenza.’ St. Louis University is looking for volunteers that they’ll pay to get the flu and spend some quarantine time at a special hotel.
The 24-room hotel was transformed into a research center, where they will intentionally expose their ‘guests’ to the flu. Influenza vaccines will be tested to see how much efficient they are. Dr. Daniel Hoft stated in a new release from the university that this would be a way to “get a lot of information quicker, with a smaller number of volunteers and less cost than a traditional vaccine study.”
He added that it would be the ideal way of testing some universal flu vaccines to find a way to offer protection against different strains of the virus.
Getting Paid to Get Sick For the Sake of Science – and Great Accommodations!
And because nobody would want to volunteer to get sick with nothing in return, SLU offers volunteers $3,500 for their time and travel to the ‘Hotel,’ which is called Extended Stay Research Unit. Moreover, the 24 guests will have nurses caring for them all the time; they will have access to TV, internet, and private bathrooms. The press release also promises to have: “common areas with comfy chairs offer spaces to socialize, read or watch TV with picture-window views of the Arch. Catered meals are served.”
The volunteers will receive a dose of the experimental vaccine or placebo before they get to stay at the hotel. Then, when getting there, they will receive a nasal spray with a dose of the flu virus. The volunteers will stay in quarantine for ten days, as the researchers get to study the effects of the vaccine. Hoft explains that:
“If a challenge trial shows the vaccine protected a small group of volunteers against flu, you can be much more confident the vaccine is more likely to be worth the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to go through phase 3 development.”
The flu season of 2017-2018 was severe, with almost 134,000 infections and 279 deaths in Missouri. The seasonal flu shot wasn’t too effective against the strains of the virus, said Hoft, only having 10-15% effect.
Stephanie Solomon Cargill is an associate professor of health care ethics at the SLU, explaining that their approach is ethical, as they’re benefiting people and the volunteers “know what they are getting into and are freely choosing it.”
Hoft also added that they have taken into consideration tuberculosis and have met standards to prevent it from spreading:
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to be as safe as possible.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.