Experimental biological research and clinical trials that relied on the healthcare system, access to public laboratory equipment, and adequate space were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and mobility restrictions. The study is to analyze the influence of COVID-19 on medical research by exploring the clinical trials and articles published by medical researchers worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Routinely conducted, deferred, and terminated clinical trial statistics from the Cancer Center of Tongji Hospital were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of global medical articles published in 2020 and those from the previous five years were analyzed according to the PubMed database. To conduct subgroup analyses, the articles were classified according to type and research field.
The total number of publications per month in 2020 increased compared to the number of articles published in 2019. However, a decrease in the number of clinical trials was noted. Reviews and research papers increased by 7.28% and 20.60%, respectively. The number of clinical trial published decreased by 62.29%. The proportion of cancer-related publications (38.44% vs. 44.79%) decreased, whereas the proportion of immunology, pulmonology, and emergency publications (19.23% vs. 17.48%) increased. In the Cancer Center of the Tongji Hospital in Wuhan during the COVID-19 pandemic, of the 46 clinical trials analyzed, 37 (80.40%) were delayed, 8 (17.40%) were remote, and 1 (2.20%) was routine.
The COVID-19 pandemic had promoted the publication of medical research articles especially those related to the immunology, pulmonology, and emergency medicine. It had a pronounced negative impact on the execution and publication of clinical trials.