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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Scientific Research in the Life Sciences

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Document pages: 11 pages

Abstract: The COVID-19 outbreak has posed an unprecedented challenge to humanity andscience. On the one side, public and private incentives have been put in placeto promptly allocate resources toward research areas strictly related to theCOVID-19 emergency. But on the flip side, research in many fields not directlyrelated to the pandemic has lagged behind. In this paper, we assess the impactof COVID-19 on world scientific production in the life sciences. We investigatehow the usage of medical subject headings (MeSH) has changed following theoutbreak. We estimate through a difference-in-differences approach the impactof COVID-19 on scientific production through PubMed. We find that COVID-relatedresearch topics have risen to prominence, displaced clinical publications,diverted funds away from research areas not directly related to COVID-19 andthat the number of publications on clinical trials in unrelated fields hascontracted. Our results call for urgent targeted policy interventions toreactivate biomedical research in areas that have been neglected by theCOVID-19 emergency.

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