The current COVID-19 pandemic has exerted an unprecedented impact across the globe. More than 29.4 million cases have been reported worldwide, including over 930,000 deaths. As we have detailed in a recent article, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the norms for reliable data acquisition, analysis, and dissemination.

It is not an exaggeration that the response of the scientific community, medical journals, media and some politicians, has been lamentable. As a consequence of the  pandemic, there has been a disruption of the evidence-based scientific paradigms that are essential for maintaining public health. The short-term consequences of this disruption can readily be observed. For example, off-label use of medications without credible proof of benefit (e.g., hydroxychloroquine), a flurry of companies rushing to market vaccines without the requisite robust evidence of efficacy and safety. Of grave concern has been woeful downgrading of the role of disease control agencies, and consequently the distrust of scientific expertise. We have recently emphasized the worrisome lack of understanding by the general public, critically important by the lay media, decision makers and politicians of the basics of the hierarchy of evidence.

In the context of this escalating chaos, how should the scientific community respond? What should be the role of medical journals? How should scientifically rigorous information be disseminated?

For the CVCT Forum in December 2020 we have invited a wide array of distinguished stakeholders: Journal Editors, Basic and  Clinical Investigators, Regulatory Experts, and leaders of the pharmaceutical industry to share their views and recommendations.

We anticipate this will facilitate a constructive paradigm to address these challenges: an optimal approach to repair the disrupted norms for reliable data acquisition, analysis, and dissemination. We hope to hear recommendations for developing a template comprising a focus on randomized controlled clinical trials, and an insistence on responsible journal publication policies to deal with social media-propagated news.

The lack of understanding by the general public, and critically important by the lay media, decision makers and politicians of the basics of the hierarchy of evidence is disconcerting. Hopefully this crisis will contribute to an enhanced awareness about how medicine should transition from empirical-based practice to evidence-based practice. Education of the general public and political leaders and indeed, all stakeholders, about the simple, but critical principles of clinical evidence generation is urgently required.

To facilitate this goal, we plan to share with our audience an easy-to follow color grading scheme for presentation of medical evidence by the media and general public.

Colour-code proposal for grading evidence on medical news in the media. Taken from The Decline of the Experimental Paradigm During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Template for the Future. American Journal of Medicine 2020.

In summary we anticipate that this moderated expert panel forum will critically consider the importance of an enhanced awareness about how medicine should transition from empirical-based practice to evidence-based practice.

Register now for the CVCT Forum.

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