To: UNC Research Community
Subject: Discontinuation of COVID Information Sheet
As we prepare for the June 1, 2021’s new research guidelines and moving towards normal operations with ongoing recommendations from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the OHRE is removing the requirement for the COVID Information Sheet. Please note we have attached an IRB letter, approving the discontinuation to utilize for your study documentation.
Why are we discontinuing the “COVID Information Sheet”?
Although COVID has not been eliminated, and risks are still present, compared to when COVID was emerging in March-June 2020, more is known by both researchers and the general public in regard to risks, treatment and prevention. These risks are no longer considered “new risks”, similar to other infectious diseases or conditions, and by continuing to place emphasis on COVID there is concern that the actual risks of research will be minimized as the general public has a much higher level of COVID awareness, appropriate protections, and options for vaccines.
Do I need to submit a modification to “remove” the COVID information Sheet?
Provided that the consent template was used verbatim as outlined in our original communication and otherwise a modification was not submitted, then the discontinuation does not need to be submitted to the UNC IRB for approval. Please retain a copy of the “Discontinuation COVID Information Sheet Approval Letter” in your study files.
What if I think I need to keep using the “COVID Information Sheet”?
If at this time due to the study population, location, or other contributing factor you feel as though it is in the best interest to continue to use the templated COVID Information sheet, you may continue to do so but it is not an IRB requirement.
What if I submitted a study specific COVID Information Sheet?
If you submitted a modification to make study specific changes to the original COVID Information Sheet, a modification to remove or revise the COVID Information Sheet is required.
UNCs IRB is providing oversight for external institutions, organizations, or clinics:
Do all of the sites that rely on the UNC IRB review need to stop using the COVID Information Sheet and do I need to submit a modification?
All sites should stop utilizing the COVID Information Sheet, unless there was either a study specific modification or the site as part of local context requires its use. If the site is required by local requirements to continue with a COVID Information Sheet, that otherwise has not already been approved by UNC through a study specific modification, then a modification should be submitted for the sites that want to use a new COVID Information Sheet or revise a previously approved COVID Information Sheet.
What if the external sites are not allowed to resume activities but UNC has resumed activities?
The sites should follow their local institution’s directives with respect to resuming activities. Typically the more restrictive stance will prevail.
My study is relying on an external IRB:
Do we need to submit the Information Sheet to the Commercial IRB’s if we are relying on them?
We have sent this to our Commercial IRB partners, and no further action by local study teams should be required.
Do I need to submit the Information Sheet to the reviewing IRB if I am not relying on a commercial IRB?
Discontinuation of the Information Sheet is considered a local institutional requirement and is part of UNCs local context. We recommend reaching out to the lead/reviewing site and confirming if they would like this information to be reviewed by their IRB, please provide them a copy of the approval letter included with this communication.
The external IRB has provided me with their own version of something like this Information Sheet. What do I do?
We would request that you at least share the Discontinued UNC Information Sheet letter with the external IRB, and request to no longer utilize the information sheet.