Coronavirus: process for fast-track research
11th March 2020
Research in a public health emergency
During a public health emergency, such as coronavirus, time is of the essence. Health research studies can support improved understanding of the condition, help to generate better diagnoses, test new treatments and help to prevent and manage the spread of disease.
As worldwide cases of coronavirus increase, and funders work quickly to commit money to studies in this area the Health Research Authority, working with partners in the devolved administrations, is able to facilitate high-quality research quickly if needed. This means that researchers receive approval to begin much more quickly than the usual timelines, sometimes in a matter of hours.
If a Scottish-based researcher has a study which they think needs fast-track review they should contact Joanne Rodger, NRS Operational Lead at email@example.com or 01224 554093 who can coordinate these efforts with colleagues across Scotland and the UK. Additional information can also be sought from your local R&D department if required.
Applications should continue to be submitted via the IRAS system in the normal way, identifying participating sites. Studies highlighted for fast-track review can be identified and facilitated to ensure that they are able to open as soon as possible.
If you are a researcher looking to identify potential participating sites in Scotland, please contact NRS Feasibilities.
- Fast-track research is subject to the same scrutiny as other studies, and the process for this is set out in Research Ethics Committee Standard Operating Procedures (section 9) and Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees
- This fast-track approach relies on the heavy involvement of key individuals. It’s expensive, and only possible in a very small number of cases where a delay to the study start would, for example, prevent any learning from the outcomes
- Emergency applications are still subject to a robust ethics review. Either an existing Research Ethics Committee (REC) can hold an extraordinary meeting, or a new REC formed to consider a particular application
- The Research Ethics Service in Scotland is part of a UK-wide national service aimed at facilitating research, whilst simultaneously protecting the rights, safety, dignity and well-being of people participating in research in the NHS. The service is supported by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office (CSO) and the Health Research Authority (HRA)
Current funding announcements
- In response to Coronavirus, the UK Government is providing £20million to CEPI, and CEPI are accepting applications for involvement (deadline Friday 14 February 2020)
- UKRI-NIHR rapid-response research call announced to develop vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or address the epidemiology, spread or underpinning knowledge of the novel coronavirus (deadline Thursday 13 February 2020)