Challenges in Assessing the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Integrity and Interpretability of Clinical Trials

Stat Biopharm Res. 2020 Aug 17;12(4):419-426. doi: 10.1080/19466315.2020.1788984.


Abstract-The COVID-19 pandemic has a global impact on the conduct of clinical trials of medical products. This article discusses implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical research methodology aspects and provides points to consider to assess and mitigate the risk of seriously compromising the integrity and interpretability of clinical trials. The information in this article will support discussions that need to occur cross-functionally on an ongoing basis to "integrate all available knowledge from the ethical, the medical, and the methodological perspective into decision making." This article aims at facilitating: (i) risk assessments of the impact of the pandemic on trial integrity and interpretability; (ii) identification of the relevant data and information related to the impact of the pandemic on the trial that needs to be collected; (iii) short-term decision making impacting ongoing trial operations; (iv) ongoing monitoring of the trial conduct until completion, including the possible involvement of data monitoring committees, and adequately documenting all measures taken to secure trial integrity throughout and after the pandemic, and (v) proper analysis and interpretation of the eventual interim or final trial data.

Keywords: Adherence; Estimand; Intercurrent event; Missing data; Protocol deviations.