The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest health, social (distancing) and economic event we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. We are consumed both by how it has changed our personal lives and by how it has impacted the world around us. People have been frantically buying food, toilet papers and other supplies they might need to socially distance themselves so they do not contract the coronavirus – as we know, if you come into contact with someone who has it, you will get it.
We also know that scientists and researchers are desperately working to create vaccines and treatments. We often hear the government tout potential treatments – ranging from the plausible, malaria-drug hydroxychloroquine, to the ridiculous, injecting light into the human body. But what we do not hear is that all of us, whether diagnosed with COVID-19 or healthy, can help create that vaccine or treatment by participating in a study.
This is where clinical research comes into the picture. The goal of clinical research is to produce knowledge for understanding human disease, preventing and treating illness, and promoting health.
In clinical research, scientists and doctors conduct studies to observe conditions and their respective treatments closely in human volunteers to understand the effectiveness and safety of the treatment.
For COVID-19, there are over 900 studies currently running worldwide looking to recruit over 22 million volunteers. There are many different types of studies but here are the key options you should know:
- Observational Studies are research studies in which your current behavior and/or symptoms are observed and recorded to help scientists better understand what it is like living with a certain condition. (You do not take new medication or treatments.)
- Interventional Studies (Clinical Trials) are studies where participants are given a medicine or treatment in a controlled setting to observe its safety and effectiveness.
- “Accepts Healthy Volunteers” are studies that accept patients who do not have the disease, in this case, COVID-19. These may be interventional (i.e. vaccine trials) or observational studies.
To learn more about COVID-19 studies and whether you can participate in one, visit https://covid19studies.org, scroll down to the list of studies and use available filters for various study types to find a study that’s right for you.