Chinese teams engaged in clinical research related to the coronavirus pandemic and the treatment of Covid-19 have been told they must submit detailed information about their work to the government within three days of commencement or face having their projects shut down. In a notice issued on Friday, the Ministry of Science and Technology also said that research projects that “breached existing pharmaceutical regulations, had negative side effects or no obvious efficacy” should be terminated. The order comes as Beijing seeks to rein in unnecessary trials that waste resources amid a global push to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus and other medicines to treat Covid-19, the disease it causes. As of Sunday morning, there had been more than 1.2 million confirmed cases around the world and close to 65,000 deaths. Wu Yuanbin, a senior official with the science ministry, raised his concerns about the risk of excessive research back in February. “Too many drug trials can create the problem of wasting resources, or even affect the treatment of patients,” he said. “Therefore, when we are researching, the organisation should be improved. We hope to find good drugs in a scientific, orderly and efficient manner.” As of Saturday, China’s clinical trial registry contained 557 research projects that had the term “Covid-19” in their title. At least four trials registered within the past two days also came with a note saying: “This trial has not been approved by the ethics committee … please contact us and submit approval documents.” Since the coronavirus outbreak began at the end of last year, China has approved 10 drugs for the treatment of Covid-19, including remdesivir , an antiviral medication made by US firm Gilead Sciences. Besides those, more than 60 others are currently being trialled for uses other than their intended application, according to financial news website Yicai.com. Of the resources in short supply for clinical research, one of the most scarce is people. According to Bruce Aylward, a senior World Health Organisation official who heads the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease, that very problem was raised by Cao Bin, a respiratory specialist at Beijing’s China-Japan Friendship Hospital, whom he met on a visit to China in February. “When I asked him what challenges they are finding when trying to implement the trial, he said the single biggest one is recruiting new patients because of the drop in cases,” Aylward said. Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.