BC Rapid Response Ethical Review Process for Clinical Research Pertaining to COVID-19
Researchers and REBs are dedicated to finding treatment options and vaccines for COVID-19 and BC research ethics professionals want to ensure that not only is there equity for patients and participants in studies, but also that there is the ability to get studies going quickly in an emergency such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
As part of the harmonized ethical review process in BC, Research Ethics BC together with the respective Health Authorities and their clinical Research Ethics Boards (REBs) agreed in April 2020 to implement a rapid ethical review process for clinical studies (including Health Canada regulated clinical trials) pertaining to COVID-19. Using the already agreed upon reciprocity arrangement between Health Authorities in BC regarding research ethics and applying their emergency standard operating procedures, only one REB review will be required for the approval of a provincial clinical study pertaining to COVID-19.
UPDATE Feb 19, 2021: Given the length of the public emergency and that most new applications for COVID-19 related research are not urgent, REBs may be adjusting their review processes. While COVID-19 studies may continue to be prioritized over review of other studies, they may not always require the Rapid Review process or special emergency review meetings. The Rapid Review process for harmonized / multi-jurisdictional COVID-19 clinical studies will only apply if a study meets the criteria of being urgent in that it has the potential to immediately impact the course of the pandemic and/or the lives of COVID-19 patients. The Board of Record for a harmonized/ multi-jurisdictional COVID-19 clinical study will make the final determination as to whether a study requires Rapid Review and/or special emergency review meeting.
Please note that this process pertains only to research ethics reviews. Operational/institutional approvals will still need to be sought and obtained by the researcher(s) involved.
We are here to help researchers and study sponsors with submitting research ethics applications for multi-jurisdictional harmonized ethical review, so please contact us directly at Research Ethics BC if you have any questions.
Prepared by: T. Fleming, Director, Research Ethics BC