Where the focus throughout the Covid-19 pandemic largely fell on the distribution of the vaccine itself, perhaps the most important element was how the vaccine is trialed and tested.

“While the world came together at record speed to rapidly accelerate R&D of hundreds of potential vaccine candidates during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a proliferation of trials that were uncoordinated, at times competing for inclusion of participants, and few at first implemented in locations away from the Global North”, said Dr Melanie Saville, Executive Director Vaccine of R&D at Cepi.

In contrast, Britain’s Recovery trial, the world’s largest randomised controlled clinical trial for Covid-19 treatments, recruited 39,000 participants across six countries in its first year of running.

Inspired by this feat, and in a move to further crunch vaccine development timelines, Dr Saville has called for a “paradigm shift” in the way that clinical trials are conducted.

“Through its streamlined approach, use of local expertise, and integration into hospital sites, we can learn from some of the approaches taken in the Recovery trial to guide our plans”, she said.

Crucial ‘peacetime’ research

Cepi has joined forces with IQVIA to try and create this change. With a focus on low-and-Middle-Income countries they aim to get high quality clinical trials set up as quickly as possible when faced with a new infectious disease emergency.

“Recent pandemics have highlighted the lifesaving effect that fast development, testing and manufacturing of effective vaccines can have on the global community”, said Alistair Grenfell, President, Europe, Middle East, Africa and South Asia, IQVIA.

“IQVIA is committed to Global Public Health and through our extensive clinical networks, data, technology, and public health capabilities, we are able to accelerate healthcare innovation for patients globally”, he added.

To achieve this, Cepi will support the establishment of regional consortia who will work together to identify and overcome gaps in their clinical research capabilities.

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