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August 2, 2021updated 30 Jul 2021 3:59pm

Slow recruitment due to Covid-19 disruptions continues to climb

There has been an increase in trials impacted by slow recruitment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the fall of disrupted trials.

By GlobalData Healthcare

Since early March 2020, around 1,000 organisations supporting clinical trials as a sponsor, collaborator, or contract research organisation (CRO) have publicly 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 Companies have delayed the initiation of planned trials or withdrawn them completely, have suspended enrollment in ongoing trials, or have terminated these trials.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 organisations, along with trials that have resumed activity since disruption.

Since June 2020, the number of total disrupted trials has been falling slowly, as shown in Figure 1. However, this levelled off in October 2020. The majority of current trial disruptions are due to trials impacted by slow enrolment, which continue to increase. Trials impacted by enrollment suspension, as well as delayed initiation, continue on a downward trajectory. This suggests trials that were planned then delayed or that had initiated enrollment with chosen sites and investigators but then suspended due to Covid-19 are having more success resuming.

Many hospitals that serve as trial sites were inundated with Covid-19 patients and may still not be available due to the emergence of new Covid-19 variants and spikes in confirmed cases in some countries. 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 deprioritised. 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 enrol in a clinical trial.

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