GloPID-R and UK DHSC organise funders’ roundtable to strengthen the clinical trials ecosystem

Funders play a critical role in clinical trials, representing a major force in improving trial coordination during global health emergencies.

During the COVID-19 response, although many lives were saved thanks to the rapid launch of collaborative and innovative clinical trials, there was also a proliferation of underpowered trials, lack of coordination and duplication of effort, leading to a waste of scarce resources and ultimately slower life-saving interventions.

In February 2020, WHO and GloPID-R came together to organize the Global Research and Innovation Forum to define and support research priorities through a roadmap that guided funders during the pandemic. Then, in 2021, during the UK’s presidency of G7, the UK Government facilitated the development of the 100 Days Mission to accelerate the development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics in a public health emergency, and the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) worked with their G7 counterparts to agree on the Vaccines and Therapeutics Clinical Trials Charter.

Based on recommendations made in both these efforts, the ‘Funders’ Roundtable: Improving clinical trials coordination was co-convened on 3rd February 2022 by GloPID-R and UK DHSC, bringing together global research funders with WHO and G7 stakeholders. Over 70 participants took part in this virtual event to explore ways to improve the coordination and efficiency of funding clinical trials.

The Funders’ Roundtable contributes to a timely discussion as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many research questions remain unanswered. Against this backdrop, GloPID-R, DHSC, WHO and other stakeholders wish to join forces to share knowledge to improve public health outcomes from this and future epidemics and pandemics.

The roundtable highlighted that sustained coordination, flexibility, efficiency and the translation of findings into policy are essential to promote high-quality clinical research during and between global health emergencies. Also, for global research collaboration to be achieved, research capacity must be strengthened in low- and middle-income countries. The Forum demonstrated the key role of funders in achieving this.

Going forward, such key insights will be used to inform GloPID-R guidelines for funders that will lay the foundation for a better coordinated, well designed clinical trials ecosystem that provides rapid solutions during future global health emergencies. This will complement work led by the UK Government and WHO to improve clinical trials and contribute to the wider efforts of the 100 days mission.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.