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July 22, 2020

Pooling Data From Individual Clinical Trials in the COVID-19 Era

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Population Health, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, New York
  • 2Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, New York
  • 3Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. Published online July 22, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.13042

The rapid pace of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused many research efforts to be initiated quickly. In some cases, nationally based platform trials have begun to report results.1 More frequently, however, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) were launched in local settings and in several cases missed the peak of the pandemic in their region. Now, some individual studies are at risk of failing to meet recruitment targets because of declining numbers of patients with COVID-19 who are being cared for at some participating sites.2 It may take several more COVID-19 surges to achieve full enrollment. Although the recent increase in COVID-19 cases reported in the US and several other countries offers the potential for enrollment in those regions, it is not certain that there will be sufficient number of centers ready with RCTs to address the pandemic in new hot spots. Launching RCTs in localities with currently increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases should be done; however, it is a time-consuming process and does not constitute a feasible short-term solution.

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