What would you do for money?
Would you catch the flu up your nose on purpose if scientists threw $3,000 aaaaatchooooo?
If you said “yes” like Daniel Bennet because that amount is nothing to sneeze at.
You have to understand why those who said “no” like Ted Mavros are the ones getting the God blessed you’s.
“I received a very scolding email from my mother,” Bennet, 26, said about signing up to be affected with the flu back in 2014. “Their standards are so high,” he said of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “I don’t believe I’m in danger. I don’t get sick that often.” Meanwhile, Mavros, 29, who was also interested in volunteering around that time let an idea prevent him from signing his name on the dotted line. “There are too many cheap people on this planet. Just think how much the medical industry makes. I would absolutely not sign up for less than 30 grand. And you should not either. If they didn’t have any subject, they wouldn’t have any choice but raise the price – or not have any testers. But most of you sell out too fast,” Mavros said on January 30, 2014.
Mr. Mavros must’ve seen the future because after struggling for almost 5 years to recruit 2,000 participants for their influenza challenge study, the NIH added another zero to their original incentive. Expectedly, the organization received over a million entries a mere 3 hours after their announcement. “We chose our volunteers carefully. You have to be healthy, not older than 50 years old, not an habitual smoker,” said Matthew Memoli, the NIH doctor leading the study. However, critics say “have a six-figure job” was a hidden inclusion criteria after the application details of the chosen 2,000 was leaked on the Internet. The lowest annual salary on the list is 85,123. Anonymous, the international hacktivist group, has threatened to launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on NIH.gov if the institution doesn’t include more financially deserving volunteers. “30,000? I don’t make that in a year. To make that in a month would’ve made my year and 2016 just begun, ” said Terry Engram, 34, the head of a 5 member family.
Mr. Engram is referring to being holed up in quarantine for at least 30 days under the surveillance of researchers; 3 weeks more than the 9 days volunteers had to spend inside a special isolation ward at the NIH hospital in 2014. “Vaccines are working, but we could do better,” said Dr. Memoli in his quest to produce a more effective inoculation, which is why thousands who said they already had the flu were excluded because scientists need to know how the immune system reacts through each step of infection, starting with first exposure. “How the body fends off influenza remains somewhat a mystery to the medical field,” said Dr. Memoli.
Although, the statistics on influenza-related deaths are questionable, Dr. Memoli knows a credible threat exists, which is why he chose a dose that produces mild to moderate symptoms. “It will taste salty. Some will drip down the back of your throat,” Dr. Memoli said, before squeezing a syringe filled with millions of microscopic virus particles, floating in salt water, into each nostril of another doctor, the most notable volunteer, G. Dick Miller, the defense-called psychologist who used the term “affluenza” in the troubling case of Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old who avoided prison time for killing four people in a drunken-driving crash in summer 2013.
When Dr. Miller was released into the recreation area within the clinic and FYTV News asked, “If you could describe this challenge study in one word, what would it be?” Treating the question with disdain because he knew what the reporter was up to, Dr. Miller replied, “I don’t have time for this bullshit” then went back to playing frisbee with cow dung.
As of writing, the National Institutes of Health hasn’t addressed the Anonymous threat.
- Would you willingly get the flu for $3,000? (The Guardian)
- Cow dung patties selling like hotcakes online in India (Huff Post)
- ‘Affluenza’: Is it real? (CNN)
- Don’t Believe Everything You Read About Flu Deaths (Huff Post)
- Screening Volunteers for Influenza Challenge Studies (Flu Clinical Studies)