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Geopolitics

Infection Challenge: Infecting Volunteers To Get A COVID-19 Vaccine Sooner

Some researchers advocate shortening the procedure for clinical trials to develop a vaccine by infecting healthy volunteers with the live virus. This 'challenge infection' method raises an ethical dilemma.

Testing a vaccine in Germany
Testing a vaccine in Germany
Nathaniel Herzberg

PARIS — It's a moral dilemma fit for philosophy books and it's being contemplated around the globe. Should we deliberately risk the health of a few to potentially save thousands of others? More specifically, should we speed up the development of a vaccine against Covid-19 by infecting healthy people?

These volunteers could potentially develop a disease that has already killed more than 500,000 worldwide, yet advocates of this method have no qualms. The title of an article published by pediatrician Stanley Plotkin (University of Pennsylvania) and bioethicist Arthur Caplan (New York University) on May 22 in the journal Vaccines makes their stances clear: "Extraordinary diseases require extraordinary solutions." According to the paper, "Developing and distributing an efficacious vaccine as quickly as possible is a moral imperative for the world" and will require rethinking "the usual path of development"— meaning some steps in the current vaccine-validating process need to be skipped.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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