How the pandemic is changing clinical trials

And some professional news!

Hi all,

Sorry for the long delay between newsletters. Things have been a bit hectic, and they’re about to become even more so: Today I’m starting a six-month stint as a reporter for The New York Times health and science desk. I’ll mostly be helping cover the pandemic, but I hope to do some other stories, too, so feel free to send me all tips, leads, and story ideas.

I do plan to keep sending out this newsletter, though I suspect it may be shorter and less frequent in the coming weeks, as I get settled and re-awaken my daily-deadline-writing muscles. Please bear with me! I will, at the very least, send out an occasional roundup of links to my stories.

The Evolution of Clinical Trials

Speaking of which, I recently wrote a piece for the Times about how the pandemic is changing clinical trials, with potentially long-lasting consequences. As I explain in the story:

When the pandemic hit last year, clinical trials took a hit. Universities closed, and hospitals turned their attention to battling the new disease. Many studies that required repeated, in-person visits with volunteers were delayed or scrapped.

But some scientists found creative ways to continue their research even when face-to-face interaction was inherently risky. They mailed medications, performed exams over video chat and asked patients to monitor their own vitals at home.

Many scientists say this shift toward virtual studies is long overdue. If these practices persist, they could make clinical trials cheaper, more efficient and more equitable — offering state-of-the-art research opportunities to people who otherwise wouldn’t have the time or resources to take advantage of them.

“We’ve discovered that we can do things differently, and I don’t think we’ll go back to life as we used to know it,” said Dr. Mustafa Khasraw, a medical oncologist and clinical trial specialist at Duke University.

Read the full story for some interesting examples of how researchers are adapting to this challenging moment and more on what the long-term ripple effects could be.

Indoor Ephemera

Bonus Interspecies Animal Content

Hang in there! There’s finally some light at the end of this tunnel.

Emily

The Great Indoors is out now! You can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, or your local independent bookstore. (And if you’ve already read the book, please consider leaving an Amazon rating or review!)

You can read more of my work at my website and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. (You can follow me on Facebook, too, I suppose, but I rarely post there.)