Ethical Challenges in Clinical Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Luke Gelinas, Advarra IRB Chairperson, co-authored the article “Ethical Challenges in Clinical Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic” in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.
The sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic brought global disruption to every aspect of society including healthcare, supply chain, the economy, and social interaction. Among the many emergent considerations were the safety and public health of the public, patients, essential workers, and healthcare professionals. In certain locations, clinical research was halted—or terminated—in deference to the immediate needs of patient care, and clinical trials focusing on the treatment and prevention of coronavirus infection were prioritized over studies focusing on other diseases. Difficult decisions were made rapidly; flexibility and reconsideration were necessary not only because the intensity and severity of infection varied over time and by locale but also because knowledge of the disease and understanding of its treatment (and prevention) grew. Here we discuss the ethical challenges in decision-making and competing ethical tensions during the pandemic in an effort to advance future preparedness.