How COVID-19 has fundamentally changed clinical research in global health

The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous pressure on the medical research community to move quickly, yet many clinical trials have been arguably inefficient with questionable methdological quality. The pandemic has highlighted the need for more collaboration and coordiantion, with large scale clinical trials and master protocols that can inform policy and public health practices.
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COVID-19 has had negative repercussions on the entire global population. Despite there being a common goal that should have unified resources and efforts, there have been an overwhelmingly large number of clinical trials that have been registered that are of questionable methodological quality. As the final paper of this Series, we discuss how the medical research community has responded to COVID-19. We recognise the incredible pressure that this pandemic has put on researchers, regulators, and policy makers, all of whom were doing their best to move quickly but safely in a time of tremendous uncertainty. However, the research community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prominently highlighted many fundamental issues that exist in clinical trial research under the current system and its incentive structures. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only re-emphasised the importance of well designed randomised clinical trials but also highlighted the need for large-scale clinical trials structured according to a master protocol in a coordinated and collaborative manner. There is also a need for structures and incentives to enable faster data sharing of anonymised datasets, and a need to provide similar opportunities to those in high-income countries for clinical trial research in lowresource regions where clinical trial research receives considerably less research funding.

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