The global crisis caused by COVID-19 has already paused business operations across the globe. This has put a severe strain on the healthcare system, forcing them to develop an effective cure to curb the pandemic. In the absence of a vaccine against the virus, social distancing has been the only way to contain the spread of coronavirus. This is why entire countries worldwide have imposed lockdowns. Now as universities and research centers have abruptly closed and stopped their activities, many scientists worry about their research and the future of science at large.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has left some scientists scrambling to save their work, while others grieving the loss of researches they had spent months or years carrying out. Some researchers are also grappling with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty about how they will continue their work. The effect of the pandemic has hit hard biomedical scientists who run wet labs. Working at the bench is now no longer an option and myriad experiments have been stopped prematurely.
Scientists are quite concerned about their work that is considerably impacted by the pandemic. In a survey of 1,178 participants by market research firm BioInformatics, a partner of The Science Advisory Board, 48 percent of academic and pharma/biotech labs have closed. The survey further found that 39 percent of respondents were operating at reduced capacity, and just 13 percent of labs surveyed reported being fully operational.
The pandemic has also led to major changes in the clinical operations of radiology departments across the globe. To comply with government-mandated lockdowns and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, academic medical centers and universities have shut down. The closures of academic centers largely hit early-career researchers, and their funding and future rely heavily on accumulating data to publish in prominent journals. In this case, funders and institutions must intensify to support scientists and ensure the dynamic future of research. Moreover, some public and non-for-profit investors are stepping out in order to respond to the rapidly changing landscape of the global health emergency.
In the time of crisis, many clinical trials have also temporarily suspended recruitment. According to an NPR analysis of federal clinical trials data, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of clinical trials to halt, stalling research into cancer, strokes, dementia and more.
Despite being experienced an unusual interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some scientists in probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods are working on, or proposing, their experiments in the way to fight against the contagious virus. The researchers are working around the clock to find effective ways to curb viral infections, which may directly or indirectly contribute to development against the novel coronavirus.
Furthermore, there also an ethical obligation remains to continue to offer potentially life-saving experimental therapies. For instance, CAR T cell treatments to those who need them. For maintaining good clinical practice and minimizing risks to trial integrity in these cases, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US Food and Drug Administration have issued comprehensive guidelines. The NIH guidelines also consist of provisions for the extension of grants and for additional funds for unforeseen costs incurred to safeguard patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.