Clinical Trials: Coronavirus

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of (a) the covid-19 outbreak and (b) resultant (i) funding reductions and (ii) other factors on the operation of medical trials; and what estimate he has made of the number of deaths as a result of those affected medical trials.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 led the National Health Service to suspend many routine clinical services and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to prepare to support the Government’s research response. Subsequently, decisions were taken by research sponsors, funders, investigators and study sites to pause some non-COVID-19 research, and by the NIHR Clinical Research Network to pause set up of new sites or studies, other than for nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies. This led to a rapid and significant reduction in clinical research activity.

The NIHR published a Restart Framework in May 2020 and has established groups to oversee and coordinate the restart of non-COVID-19 research. Restart of non-COVID-19 trials of life-preserving or life-extending treatments that are not otherwise available to patients remain a priority.

We have no evidence to date that studies underway prior to the pandemic, including those paused or stopped, have been impacted by reductions in funding. We are working with partners to assess the potential impact on funding available for future studies.

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