Clinical research is the backbone of modern medicine. In America, every single medical treatment, device, or drug used to treat people has to go through the clinical trial process. Any new medical breakthrough is due in part to the researchers in every phase of the study – but also to the clinical trial volunteers and participants.
That being said, we’re in a unique situation right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC, medical experts, and lawmakers are telling us not to leave our houses. Some are being fined for not wearing masks in public. People are losing their lives. In many cities, the worst is yet to come.
So, you may be wondering: is it still safe to join a clinical trial? Here’s what you need to know.
Medical professionals are going to great lengths to keep patients from getting sick.
Research sites are going through as much of the process as possible remotely, meaning that in-person visits are only required on an as-needed basis. This helps reduce patients’ risk of contracting the virus by keeping people at home and alleviating in-person wait times, therefore giving patients less opportunity to come into contact with each other or a surface where unwanted germs may be.
When patients are needed for in-person visits, they are encouraged (and in some places, required) to wear masks, gloves, or other protective equipment to keep yourself as protected as possible. Medical staff have also upped their personal protective equipment (PPE) in part to keep themselves protected from the virus, but more so to keep patients from coming into contact with any of their germs.
Anyone – patient or staff – who feels even a little bit sick is asked to stay home. Research sites will quarantine and shut down operations if they find out someone who has been at their facility has tested positive. Sites are continuing to vamp up sanitation efforts.
At the end of the day, medical professionals want to help you. The entire purpose of a clinical trial is to help people by trying to find treatments and cures for diseases. Researchers do not want to risk your health and safety; they want to improve it.
The short answer: yes, it is still safe to join a clinical trial if you are healthy.
Do not volunteer and do not leave home if you are not feeling completely well.
That being said, if you’re having concerns about your health or safety, bring it up with your doctor. Study coordinators are also great resources; be sure to know that all information you receive from the clinical trial staff has to have been approved by an independent review board for patient safety.
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