Since early March, more than 500 companies have publicly announced clinical trial disruptions, both planned and ongoing, 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 Many companies have delayed the initiation of planned trials or withdrawn them completely, and others have suspended enrollment in their ongoing trials or terminated the trials altogether.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 clinical trial disruptions can be attributed to patient safety measures, strict lockdown requirements, social distancing procedures, and the high demand for medical professionals to treat Covid-19 patients.

As the initial peak of the virus started declining, many trials were set to resume activity. However, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is increasing again globally, especially in Western areas such as the US and Europe.

The Covid-19 Dashboard on GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center dynamically tracks both disrupted and resumed trials. As of October 15, the number of resumed trials has increased from over to 741 to 808. Out of these trials, 82.4% are currently recruiting participants, 7.3% have completed recruitment but are still ongoing, and 0.5% of trials have yet to start recruiting subjects. The figure below shows that there is a very slight, steady increase in trials resuming activity. Initially, the general trend showed a gradual increase in the overall percentage of trials for each trial status, the biggest of which has been seen in ongoing, recruiting trials and ongoing, not recruiting trials. However, between September 21 and October 15, ongoing recruiting trials only increased from 82.2% to 82.4% and completed trials only increased from 6.4% to 6.8%.

The US has the highest number of resumed trials at 70.7%, followed by the UK at 8.6%, France at 7.4%, Spain at 6.9%, and Germany at 6.4%. As lockdown restrictions eased, GlobalData forecast that trial activity would resume further. However, as more nations are re-enforcing lockdown due to a globally rising number of Covid-19 cases, trial activity is expected to resume at a much slower rate than originally anticipated. In the US, the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases are found in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia. The UK has also had an increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, jumping from Tier 1 to Tier 2 of the Government’s lockdown rule agenda and enforcing local lockdowns. Companies are reviewing alternative approaches by using remote measures and virtual clinical trials that aim to bring studies directly to the patient via online data collection and video call progress checks.

Figure 1: Resumed Clinical Trials by Status.

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By GlobalData

Credit: GlobalData, Pharma Intelligence Center (Accessed October 2020).