A new survey has detailed cancer researchers’ concerns that advances for patients could be delayed by nearly 18 months due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey included input from scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, who said that their own research advances would be delayed by an average of six months by the initial lockdown and subsequent restrictions.
The ICR surveyed 239 of its researchers to gain an in-depth picture of the impact that the pandemic has had on research and to identify ways of ‘moving forward’.
On average, respondents reported that they had lost ten weeks of research time during the first national lockdown, with their own scientific advances set to be delayed by an average of six months.
Nearly all respondents said that COVID-19 had impacted their work, with 36% reporting a ‘moderate impact’ and another 36% saying it had a ‘substantial’ impact.
The main problems caused by the impact included closure of labs during lockdown and subsequent restrictions in access to facilities and equipment, with 91% of respondents citing these issues.
Respondents also reported that an inability to enrol patients on clinical trials, access to clinical samples or interaction in person with colleagues had impacted their work.
“It is sobering to see that our researchers are estimating that their own research advances will be delayed by six months – and that the wider impact, because of the interconnectedness of science, is likely to push back major advances for patients by nearly a year and a half,” said Paul Workman, chief executive of the ICR, London.
“Our survey though does provide solutions to mitigate the impact – in the form of investment in staffing, new technologies and computing power. For that, we need more of the generous donations we have been receiving to our emergency appeal, along with a commitment from the Government to help fill the funding gap for the life sciences left by the pandemic,” he added.