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Evidence-based medicine and COVID-19: what to believe and when to change
  1. Simon Carley1,2,
  2. Daniel Horner3,
  3. Richard Body2,4,
  4. Kevin Mackway-Jones1
  1. 1 Emergency Medicine, Manchester Metropolitan University - All Saints Campus, Manchester, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  3. 3 Emergency Department, Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, Salford, UK
  4. 4 Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Simon Carley, Emergency Medicine, Manchester Metropolitan University - All Saints Campus, Manchester, UK; simon.carley{at}


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge of information being presented to clinicians regarding this novel and deadly disease. There is a clear urgency to collate, review, appraise and act on this information if we are to do the best for clinicians and patients. However, the speed of the pandemic is a threat to traditional models of knowledge translation and practice change. In this concepts paper, we argue that clinicians need to be agile in their thinking and practice in order to find the right time to change. Adoption of new methods should be based on clinical judgement, the weight of evidence and the balance of probabilities that any new technique, test or treatment might work. The pandemic requires all of us to reach a new level of evidence-based medicine characterised by scepticism, thoughtfulness, responsiveness and clinically agility in practice.

  • epidemiology
  • education, teaching
  • education
  • performance improvement
  • quality

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  • Handling editor Ellen J Weber

  • Twitter @EMManchester, @rcemprof, @richardbody

  • Contributors SC had the original idea and wrote the first draft. RB, DH and KM-J refined and developed the manuscript into its final form.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.