COVID-19 pandemic has left an everlasting impact on the lives of millions of people worldwide. Innovation in developing and producing bulk vaccines has become a major concern for research scientists and pharmaceutical companies. As COVID-19 related mortality hiked, numerous pharmaceutical organizations had to rapidly gear up clinical trials, to ensure the production of a safe and effective vaccine for patient use.
A conventional clinical trial is a laboriousandcomplex process, thatrequires trained manpower, money, and time. It primarily revolves around dealing with huge data sets, its interpretation from system-to-system for days and months. The second and prominent issue faced by the pharma companies is to recruit the patients, deal with retention of the participants, and maintaining the quality of patients participating in the trials. Presently, patient enrolment is the single greatest reason for hold-ups in clinical trials, causing huge revenue loss to pharma companies.
In a world where maintaining social distance and wearing masks is of utmost importance, a virtual clinical trial is becoming the future reality of conventional clinical trials. A true virtual clinical trial would be minimal or zero involvement of physical sites or face to face interaction with the patients. A more realistic approach that has been frequently used are Hybrid trials. Hybrid trials focus on a patient-facing technology which includes direct patient interaction by personal interviews.
The trendline of virtual clinical trials suggests virtual components such as mobile technology, web-based patient diaries, and wearable technologies. There is a dire need to deliver a better patient experience, which is why virtual clinical trials are being intensely focused upon. According to a research article, it was found that the use of patient-facing technologies helped widen the pool of trial participants, increase retention, and generate a better quality of data. Patient safety monitoring, elimination of second-hand data sources, patient literacy of the study, diagnostic methods and tools, were improved using these technologies.
Experts propose a chain of advantages that have emerged from the restructuring of virtual clinical trials or hybrid clinical trials and would continue to develop in the future. Now, with reduced human-to-human interaction as a result of the pandemic, it’s essential to widen the pool of eligible patients through better digital patient recruitment strategies using virtual trials. However, it must be kept in mind to share all the relevant information regarding the consent forms, study duration, and procedures involved, which can be done virtually.
Virtual clinical trials are also compliant with the 3D-Modelling. VCTs, also known as in–silico imaging trials provides an alternative to efficiently evaluate medical imaging technologies virtually.VCTs continue to widen their scope in, in-silico reproductions of medical examination like 2D-3D X-ray breast imaging, equipped with digital models of patient stimulated devices. This upgraded model is designed to provide clinically sufficient data with fewer execution times, minimal costs related to clinical trials, and ethical issues associated with radiation-induced risks.
However, the most frequent question asked remains, as to what are the prerequisites for the industry to effectively realize the potential of virtual clinical trials. COVID-19 has helped to change the conventional approach of clinical trials. Although there are a lot of advancements in this field, a concerted effort should be made in standardizing the data models to carry out real-time, cost-effective, and efficient virtual clinical trials in the upcoming future.