Bayesian Methods to Address Clinical Development Challenges for COVID-19 Drugs and Biologics

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the challenge for designing and executing clinical trials with vaccines and drug/device combinations within a substantially shortened time frame. Numerous challenges in designing COVID-19 trials include lack of prior data for candidate interventions / vaccines due to the novelty of the disease, evolving standard of care and sense of urgency to speed up development programmes. We propose sequential and adaptive Bayesian trial designs to help address the challenges inherent in COVID-19 trials. In the Bayesian framework, several methodologies can be implemented to address the complexity of the primary endpoint choice. Different options could be used for the primary analysis of the WHO Severity Scale, frequently used in COVID-19 trials. We propose the longitudinal proportional odds mixed effects model using the WHO Severity Scale ordinal scale. This enables efficient utilization of all clinical information to optimize sample sizes and maximize the rate of acquiring evidence about treatment effects and harms.