Authors : Lucie Perillat, Brian S. Baigrie
Rationale, aims and objectives
The COVID‐19 pandemic has impacted every facet of society, including medical research. This paper is the second part of a series of articles that explore the intricate relationship between the different challenges that have hindered biomedical research and the generation of novel scientific knowledge during the COVID‐19 pandemic.
In the first part of this series, we demonstrated that, in the context of COVID‐19, the scientific community has been faced with numerous challenges with respect to (1) finding and prioritizing relevant research questions and (2) choosing study designs that are appropriate for a time of emergency.
During the early stages of the pandemic, research conducted on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) sparked several heated debates with respect to the scientific methods used and the quality of knowledge generated.
Research on HCQ is used as a case study in both papers. The authors explored biomedical databases, peer‐reviewed journals, pre‐print servers and media articles to identify relevant literature on HCQ and COVID‐19, and examined philosophical perspectives on medical research in the context of this pandemic and previous global health challenges.
This second paper demonstrates that a lack of research prioritization and methodological rigour resulted in the generation of fleeting and inconsistent evidence that complicated the development of public health guidelines.
The reporting of scientific findings to the scientific community and general public highlighted the difficulty of finding a balance between accuracy and speed.
The COVID‐19 pandemic presented challenges in terms of (3) evaluating evidence for the purpose of making evidence‐based decisions and (4) sharing scientific findings with the rest of the scientific community.
This second paper demonstrates that the four challenges outlined in the first and second papers have often compounded each other and have contributed to slowing down the creation of novel scientific knowledge during the COVID‐19 pandemic.