The motivations of many people who take part in drug clinical trials are a combination of a desire to make a personal contribution to the development of a vaccine or treatment and/or the sense of agency they experience from their involvement. It is rarely to help the manufacturer make more money. Discovering the manufacturer isn’t sharing the technology can prompt feelings of outrage and betrayal, with damaging consequences.
As a participant in the double-blind trial, I didn’t know if I was in the control group, which received shots of saline, or in the experimental group, which received shots of the experimental vaccine. It was only six months after starting the trial that I learned I was among those who received saline.
Letting a company that had never brought a vaccine to market use my body as a test subject was scary, painful, and exhausting. Participating in the trial entailed seven visits to a hospital, 24 phone calls, dozens of diary entries, repeated batteries of questions about my private life, five blood draws, and numerous nasopharyngeal swabs — the painful brain-tickling ones.