Clinical trials regain momentum following Covid-19 disruption

20th August 2020 (Last Updated August 20th, 2020 13:53)

Clinical trials regain momentum following Covid-19 disruption

Since early March, more than 500 companies have publicly announced disruptions to their planned and ongoing clinical trials due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many companies have delayed the initiation of planned trials or withdrawn them completely, and others have suspended enrollment in their ongoing trials or terminated the trials altogether.

The majority of trial disruptions can be attributed to patient safety measures, strict lockdown requirements, social distancing procedures, and the high demand on medical professionals to treat Covid-19 patients.

As the initial peak of the virus is slowly declining and countries are gradually lifting strict lockdown measures, many trials are set to resume activity.

GlobalData reported on the number of resumed trials on three separate occasions. The first report was published on 28 May when GlobalData reported that over 130 trials had resumed activity.

The second was published on 29 June when the number of resumed trials increased to 350.

The last was published on 28 July  when more than 500 trials had resumed. On all occasions, the US had the highest number of resumed trials.

The Covid-19 Dashboard on GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center dynamically tracks both disrupted and resumed trials.

As of 17 August, the number of resumed trials has increased from 500 to over 600. Out of these trials, 84.7% are currently recruiting participants, 7.6% have completed recruitment but are still ongoing, and 1.0% of trials have yet to start recruiting subjects.

The figure below shows the steady increase of trials resuming activity. There has been a gradual increase in the overall percentage of trials for each trial status, the biggest of which has been seen in ongoing recruiting and ongoing not recruiting trials.

Between 28 July and 17 August, ongoing recruiting trials increased from 84.5% to 84.7% and completed trials increased from 3.8% to 4.5%.

The US has the highest number of resumed trials at 70.8%, followed by the UK at 8.0%, Spain at 7.6%, France at 7.0%, and Germany at 6.6%.

These numbers are expected to steadily increase as lockdown measures globally are eased further.

In a recent GlobalData poll that was completed by readers of www.clinicaltrialsarena.com between 8 July and 3 August, healthcare experts estimated that it may take some time for the clinical trials that were disrupted due to Covid-19 to return to normal.

Out of 731 respondents, 27% suggested that it could take more than 12 months for trial activity to return to normal, 23% said it would take four to six months, 22% said it would be done within three months, 15% said it would take seven to nine months, and 13% said it would take 10–12 months.

Companies are reviewing alternative approaches by using remote measures and virtual clinical trials that aim to bring the study directly to the patient via online data collection and video call progress checks.

With so many companies shifting to alternative ways to conduct trials, it is possible that the use of virtual trials may still be prominent even after the Covid-19 pandemic ends.