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October 1, 2020

Overall clinical trial disruption due to Covid-19 declines, but the number of trials with slow recruitment continues to grow

Since early March, around 1,000 organizations supporting clinical trials as a sponsor, collaborator, or contract research organization (CRO) have publically announced disruptions to planned and ongoing clinical trials in their press releases, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and clinical trial registries, as well as on social media.

By GlobalData Healthcare

Since early March, around 1,000 organizations supporting clinical trials as a sponsor, collaborator, or contract research organization (CRO) have publically announced disruptions to planned and ongoing clinical trials in their press releases, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and clinical trial registries, as well as on social media.

Companies have delayed the initiation of planned trials or withdrawn them completely, have suspended enrollment in ongoing trials, or have terminated these trials. GlobalData dynamically tracks these disrupted trials and organizations, along with trials that have resumed activity since disruption.

Since June, the number of total disrupted trials has been falling slowly, as shown in Figure 1. The majority of current trial disruptions are now due to trials impacted by slow enrollment, which continue to increase. Trials impacted by enrollment suspension have been on a downward trajectory while clinical trials that delayed initiation have remained steady. This suggests trials that had initiated enrollment before the pandemic with chosen sites and investigators, but then suspended due to COVID-19, are having more success picking up where they left off as long as enrollment wasn’t impacted.
Within the category of trials currently affected by slow enrollment, one-tenth of these are specifically due to the unavailability of sites and investigators.

Many hospitals that serve as trial sites were inundated with COVID-19 patients and may still not be available; likewise, many investigators may have been reassigned to COVID-19 drug discovery trials or treating COVID-19 patients and the activation of sites for non-COVID-19 trials is being deprioritized. As the number of trials that have been impacted by slow enrollment continues to increase, this continues to be an issue. There is also a high risk to subjects in a clinical trial who have a serious chronic or acute condition that affects their immune system, giving them a greater chance of contracting COVID-19 and making them unwilling to enroll in a clinical trial.

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