The COVID-19 pandemic has been highly disruptive of both cancer research delivery and funding streams for cancer research. For example, a survey of 12 UK cancer charities by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) estimated that funding shortfall from these charities in 2020/2021 is expected to be between £61m and £167m. Given that the COVID-19 crisis appears to be precipitating an economic recession on a global scale, it is expected that such funding shortfalls will have long term impacts on the field, particularly in low- to middle-income countries (LMICs). A project led by members of the Task Force, REPRISE, aims to re-examine cancer research priorities in LMICs in this emerging context. The project comprises three work strands. The outputs from these three work strands will feed into a Delphi consensus-making process involving expert individuals that are representative of LMICs in all WHO regions. The Delphi process aims to produce a list of research priorities for LMICs in a ‘post-pandemic’ environment. The three work strands that will feed into this project are 1) a snapshot survey; 2) a bibliometric analysis; and 3) a literature review.
The snapshot survey aims to collect data from cancer research professionals all over the world, to examine what types of disruptions to their work have taken place due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in their country. The results of this snapshot survey have now been collated and will be presented at the AACR COVID-19 and Cancer virtual meeting taking place 3 rd -5 th February 2021.
The bibliometric analysis aims to establish a picture of how resources for cancer research have historically been allocated in both high-income countries and in LMICs, examining research domains but also cancer types.
The literature review will examine the impacts that the global outbreak of COVID-19 has had on the continuity of cancer research studies and cancer care; and on funding streams for cancer research. These questions will be examined using a qualitative approach that integrates the content from journalistic reports throughout 2020, as well as information obtained from cancer research funders as supplementary information.
The information produced from these three work strands will be used to provide participants in the REPRISE Delphi process with the information they need to make informed decisions about which areas of research they think would provide the most patient benefit, given the various constraints that the field may find itself experiencing in the post-pandemic years to come.