Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on healthcare systems worldwide. It has also had global economic impacts that will continue to be felt for years. The effects have implications for how cancer research is conducted and funded. The REPRISE project aims to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to provide opportunities to redefine cancer research priorities in low- to middle-income countries (LMICs). We aim to characterize the nature of these practical and economic impacts and use this information to redefine research priorities in a changed world moving forward. Methods: As a first step, we conducted a snapshot survey of members of the ‘Cancer and COVID-19 Global Task Force’, which consists of experienced cancer researchers across the world. We asked about the extent to which the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting public health measures had affected cancer research in their centers. Results: We received 57 responses to our questionnaire. The respondents worked in 22 countries, representing all Word Health Organization (WHO) regions. 67% of respondents worked in either an academic/university setting, or in a public teaching hospital. The specialities of medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgery, and epidemiology were each represented by >25% of all respondents, which also included those with backgrounds in nursing, palliative care, survivorship, psychology, pathology, and prevention. Respondents in 17/22 countries reported that some (n=10) or all (n=7) cancer research studies were suspended at their center following the outbreak of COVID-19. Respondents in 5 countries reported that suspension of these studies had lasted >6 months. Respondents in 8/22 countries reported that staff redeployment, furlough, or restriction from clinical areas had had a ‘large impact’ on the conduct of research they were involved with. Respondents in 4 further countries reported that these factors had had a ‘moderate impact’. Respondents also reported local impacts on cancer research from in-center outbreaks of COVID-19 (14 countries); government-imposed ‘lockdowns’ (20 countries); compliance with COVID-19 safety (18 countries); decreases in participant accrual (11 countries); and decreased patient access to diagnostics or treatment (19 countries). Nine countries yielded reports of funding cuts in their center. Twenty countries yielded reports of concerns about future funding cuts. Fifteen countries yielded reports of issues from delays to postgraduate education. Additionally, respondents were concerned about future impacts on cancer research from COVID-19 safety measures, funding cuts, and decreased patient access to diagnostics or treatments. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted on the conduct of cancer research in many different countries and in several different ways. The process of redefining cancer research priorities throughout the REPRISE project will ensure that the impacts we have documented here are mitigated as far as possible and that moving forward, we can begin to address global disparities in cancer research.
Citation Format: Louis Fox, Verna Vanderpuye, Richard Sullivan, Mieke Van Hemelrijck, Deborah Mukherji. A global snapshot of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer research: Report from a Global Cancer and COVID-19 Task Force [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Virtual Meeting: COVID-19 and Cancer; 2021 Feb 3-5. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Clin Cancer Res 2021;27(6_Suppl):Abstract nr P45.