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Clinicians have worked feverishly to treat patients with COVID-19 while also carrying out clinical research studies. We discuss how the clinical research community responded to the pandemic in Europe, what lessons were learned, and provide recommendations for future clinical research response during pandemics. We focused on two platform trials: RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP. Both trials were able to enrol patients very rapidly during the beginning of the pandemic because of pre-established structures and procedures, and because they share simple execution and flexibility to adjust when evidence emergences. However, contracting, regulatory hurdles, and competition with (often inadequately designed or underpowered) national trials was a major challenge in several EU countries. We recommend the creation of structures and partnerships that facilitate prioritisation of clinical research, simplification of clinical trial delivery, development of digital models and procedures for data collection and sharing, development of a mechanism to rapidly leverage pandemic funding and to connect EU funding with national funding, and investment in clinical trial networks, platform trials, and master protocols. Finally, the future pandemic clinical research response of the EU should be embedded in the global response. We believe that globally connected clinical trial networks will be essential to respond more effectively to future infectious diseases outbreaks.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet. Infectious diseases

Publication Date





e153 - e158


Laboratory of Medical Microbiology, Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute, University of Antwerp and University Hospital Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:


Humans, Disease Outbreaks, Europe, Pandemics, COVID-19