How to Become a Human Guinea Pig
Normally I ignore “recommended” spamverts on social media, that pay X amount a day to get visibility to unsuspecting viewers. When I saw the adverts for human test subjects on Facebook recently however I was intrigued. This was by a company called Flucamp, who had offices based in London and Manchester. I had no idea what it took to become a human trial study and so I set out on a mission – to get flu in the name of technological advancement, for the love of Tech Scorpion!
First things first – apply to be a test subject.
I applied on the company’s website. I noted there were at least three stages to the process. The first being a phone interview of sorts. This happened a couple of days after I applied, so it was a fairly efficient system they’ve got set up. The interview is about 10 minutes long and will involve you discussing VERY personal questions about your health and body with a complete stranger. So it’s not for the private or prudish. If you happen to pass that, (and from the questions, I can imagine a lot don’t – they seem rather particular) they’ll ask you if you have any cold or flu type symptoms at present… because they want you to come in to their office to begin stage two ASAP after. It turned out that I was feeling a bit sniffly, which was taken very seriously by the phone lady. She scheduled another catch up call for a fortnight to ensure I was over anything that could influence stage two.
Stage two – the blood tests.
If you pass stage one and you have a body that matches what they are after, then it’s time for the physical. I chose to venture to the office set up in Manchester, which turned out to be pretty tricky for a non-local to find… As well as a taxi driver it turns out. You do get compensated for £20 (I think its £30 in the London office) for the visit, and it cost me £30 to get there so I was already £10 down… but, I persevered, because I wanted to know more! If you can imagine what a medical company looks like, then you’re probably exactly right, because this place looked to come straight out of how I’d expected it to look. White, immaculate, with smiley clinical staff. After agreeing to the terms that get presented to you, you are lead in twos through a series of processes. A bit more information and box ticking about yourself, your doctors address, emergency contact etc…
Afterwards you are then lead in to a room to watch a presentation on the whole process so you are better clued in. Because who reads all the paperwork, right? Staff awkwardly inform you via the video that a blood test is needed, as well as potentially other tests. This determines how suitable you are for the trial. Whether you are already immune to the strain of flu they are testing for. It was a very white room with lots of chairs, and two of us watching the presentation. For some reason the lady that brought us into the room told me to sit at the back as I went to sit in a mid-row seat. Like I was going to be in the way in this barren room!? I obediently obliged her, which made me suddenly think that in itself was some sort of test… perhaps paranoia and dystopian pre conceptions were kicking in after all. (I stopped myself looking for her separated daemon.)
After watching the video, we were then collected by *insert name here*. Who takes us deeper into the corridors and into a private room for our individual evaluation and blood test. A lot of questions are again asked, very personal ones that were asked during the stage one, I guess just to make sure nothing slipped through the net. And every single thing is written down. (You have the choice to say whether this information, and your fluids collected can be used by third parties and students.)
Stage three – get sick
If you happen to get past stage two then it’s likely they will call you in for a second check-up nearer to the time of wanting to bring you in to become a test subject. I didn’t get past stage two sadly but I can fill you in on a little of what happens from the super duper presentation I watched from the back row.
Roughly around only 25% of all applicants make it through to test phase, and these people will get put on some form of contraception if they are ‘sexually active’ for a few weeks before and after the isolation period (just to make really sure you don’t get a pregnancy happening, of course). You have to be available for at least two weeks, and it can be up to three weeks if you are still showing the signs of flu. When you get brought in for tests you are essentially isolated from the outside world for the duration. You’ll have a strain of flu dripped into your nose, and then presumably the test substance at some point to see what happens. It’s worth noting that you can back out of the trial at any time, right up until you have the flu given to you. After this there is a contamination issue, so it becomes a lot more difficult for you to back out if it. You’ll be able to contact the outside world via internet or telephones, and the mod cons available seem pretty decent. It’s possible you’ll be sharing a room with another test patient, and there is no smoking in the building so you might want to consider you won’t be able to smoke for several days if you decide to go ahead with it. Anyone that gets anxiety from confinement might want to also reconsider applying. Once it’s all over you need to make sure you are available a few months after for check-ups.
Heres a chap on YouTube that made a video of the final days in isolation –
There is £2000-3500 of compensation for your time and commitment to the test should you complete the entirety of it. Not too shabby for less than a months work, perhaps? I had moral dilemmas whilst considering doing this – I essentially do not agree with animal testing. However, I know that for a drug to get to human stages there has already been years of animal trials taken place, which I cannot help or avoid (save for signing petitions and donating to charities, which I do) so why not put myself on the line to help these guys make the stimpaks for the future? At the end of the day, it’s down to free choice, and hopefully there’s plenty of inside info here to clue you up on whether you want to be the guinea pig.