The following is a summary of “Disparities in COVID-19 clinical studies from high-income and low-and middle-income countries,” published in the July 2023 issue of the Infectious Disease by Yin et al.
The goal is to compare COVID-19 investigations conducted in high-income countries (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The International Clinical Trials Registry Platform was utilized to identify COVID-19-related studies registered between December 31, 2019, and December 31, 2021. The World Bank’s definition was used to categorize countries as high-, upper-, lower-, and low-income.
The final three were classified as LMICs. Researchers examined the differences between COVID-19 studies conducted in HICs and LMICs regarding response speed, classification of medicines and vaccines, and registration and results reporting compliance. They included 12,396 COVID-19 studies, with 6,631 from HICs (53.5%). In April 2020, HIC-registered studies peaked at 1,038, while LMICs had only 440. Among the 6,969 interventional trials, those from HICs demonstrated greater registration compliance (2,199, 62.3% vs. 1,979, 57.6%, P<0.001) and reporting compliance (hazard ratio 0.39, 95% CI 0.28-0.55, P<0.001) than those from LMICs.
In addition, HICs conducted substantially more small-molecule drug trials (956, 57.5% vs. 868, 41.2%, P <0.001) and messenger RNA vaccine trials (135, 32.9% vs. 19, 4.7%, P<0.001) than LMICs. HICs conducted COVID-19 clinical trials with a faster response rate, higher registration, and publication compliance, producing more innovative pharmaceutical and vaccine products than LMICs.