As FHI Clinical begins supporting rapid start-up of clinical trials vital to containing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the global community, we are also adapting our ongoing work to the new reality of this global pandemic. We are closely monitoring the situation on the ground in the countries where we work and repurposing team members to support COVID-19 response needs.
Many of our clinical research associates (CRAs) who conduct remote monitoring activities in Africa and Asia are now supporting our 24/7 call center for COVID-19 clinical trial center triaging. They are also answering protocol questions from sites worldwide so that we can quickly and efficiently enroll and follow-up study patients. We are also convening multi-partner videoconferences where subject matter experts and key opinion leaders discuss how to effectively activate and execute projects and programs within the landscape of the pandemic, and we have repurposed our headquarters support staff to manage these meetings.
In Equatorial Guinea (EG), where we’re partnering with Sanaria on their projects to develop a malaria vaccine, there were 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 9, nine of which are on Bioko Island (population, ~350,000 people). As the staff at our clinical sites and labs in EG are deployed to aid with the COVID-19 response, we are concerned for our team members and all Equatoguineans, who are already struggling to control malaria, dengue and other infections. The malaria vaccine studies in EG are part of the larger Bioko Island Malaria Control Project (BIMCP), which is also exploring the effect of human movement patterns to and from the island on disease transmission. Because of this, we recognize how potentially devasting COVID-19 could be for this island population.
While there is no specific timeframe for when we can return to normal operations in our ongoing research to test much-needed vaccines and treatments for the many endemic diseases worldwide, we are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our many employees, contractors and partners around the globe.
The team at FHI Clinical has spent years creating and sustaining worldwide research capacity. In partnership with our parent company, FHI 360, we have established lasting relationships with governments, regulatory agencies, other CROs, sponsors, academic institutions, sites and local communities. Together, we help ensure that countries are prepared to respond to threats to their people’s health. Because of our capacity, relationships and toolkit of resources, we are able to deploy as soon as a new virus like COVID-19 emerges.