COVID Has Pushed Medical Research into Remote Trials, Benefiting Patients and Scientists


After her teenage daughter tested positive for the novel coronavirus this past January, Jennifer Scruggs got to work disinfecting surfaces in their home in Bethpage, N.Y. Then she noticed that she couldn’t smell the Lysol she was spraying. “Uh-oh—this wasn’t a good sign,” she recalls thinking. “So I got tested, and sure enough, I was positive for COVID.”

Scruggs, an administrative employee at Northwell Health, a network of hospitals and clinics based in Long Island, N.Y., heard that her employer was recruiting nonhospitalized COVID patients for a clinical trial. The goal was to find out whether famotidine, the active ingredient in the heartburn drug Pepcid, could reduce the severity of the infection. Eager to contribute to science, Scruggs was thrilled to learn she could participate without leaving home. Everything needed for the monthlong study—pills, instruments to…

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