What is it about?

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has seen clinical trials launched at exceptional speed in unprecedented numbers. While this is a positive development, the rapidity of trial launches and the unpredictable nature of the pandemic bring challenges for the conduct of trials and evidence synthesis. Duplication of effort is a risk, and many trials alone are underpowered to find statistically significant effects for clinically important outcomes, including mortality. In addition, the hard-to-predict waves of the pandemic may hinder recruitment due to declining cases or pose challenges to starting trials quickly in emerging hotspots. Recruitment has been a particular issue in Australia due to low case numbers compared with other countries. Furthermore, funds in Australia were rapidly made available to support research addressing the pandemic, but little is known about how effectively these funds have been used to drive the global agenda of preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19. We aimed to derive an understanding of the current landscape of clinical trials addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and to what extent Australian researchers have responded to the global need for coordination and collaboration. Therefore, we searched the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) and ClinicalTrials.gov from 1 January to 16 November 2020, as these sources capture approximately 95% of registered trials recruiting in Australia.

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Why is it important?

In Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapid changes in some processes including fast-tracked funding, ethics approvals, trial registration, and publication. Yet, too little has happened in creating infrastructure and funding for rapid collaboration, advanced adaptive methodologies and data sharing. In future, with adequate funding for technological innovation, clinical trial registries may play a key role in automatically connecting similar trials and facilitating collaboration. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity to improve collaborative infrastructure and methodologies, and advance future research across all health areas.


The research response in Australia has been rapid, but better coordination is imperative

Dr Aidan Tan
University of Sydney

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The landscape of COVID‐19 trials in Australia, The Medical Journal of Australia, July 2021, Australasian Medical Publishing Co. Pty Ltd. (AMPCo),
DOI: 10.5694/mja2.51148.
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