Medical translations are crucial to the continuing advancement of clinical research. Each day, thousands of medical and pharmaceutical research studies, findings, clinical trials, and even licencing applications are meticulously studied and translated. These translations are necessary for medical research and pharmaceutical companies across the globe so that scientists and doctors can share vital information. These highly-technical translations are held to the highest standards, since one error can make the difference between success or failure, and even life or death. With many of us relying on life-saving medicines and the availability of up-to-date medical research, precise medical translations are vital to ensuring the health and wellbeing of every community. So, how are medical translation services helping in the fight against the Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

Sharing Research

China has been applauded for their prompt sharing of the genetic sequence of SARS-COV-2 with the World Health Organization (WHO). This has enabled the WHO to disseminate this vital genome data with leading medical researchers across the globe, allowing for timely research and development of possible vaccines in an effort to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from infection.

China announced that their scientists had discovered this new pneumonia-causing infection actually stemmed from the Coronavirus family of pathogens that includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), each of which caused their own comparatively more limited outbreaks in 2003 and 2012. This link highlights the importance of accurate information being made available to the relevant medical research teams as quickly as possible.

The World Health Organization recently took to Twitter thanking China ‘for their commitment to sharing information on the novel coronavirus’ and that these ‘genetic sequences of the novel coronavirus will allow countries to develop specific diagnostic kits, quickly identify and then care for anyone infected, and ensure better health outcomes and containment of the virus.’

International collaboration is also facilitating the development of ‘speed tests’ to help detect the virus in presenting patients and accurately track the spread. While the standard tests can take up to 48 hours or longer to yield results, there have been reports of speed tests returning results in 40 minutes, and Russian scientists are now developing a test that could provide results in as little as 15 minutes.

International Cooperation

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is a global alliance financing and coordinating the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases. Their main goal is to accelerate the process of having effective vaccines available. CEPI places huge value on international cooperation:

‘Close collaboration with global partners will be crucial to the success of our work to develop vaccines against emerging infectious diseases. Therefore, we will support coordinating activities to improve our collective response to epidemics, strengthening capacity in countries at risk, and advancing the regulatory science that governs product development.’

There are now over 20 vaccines already in development for SARS-COV-2. In fact, the first human trial of a potential vaccine has already begun in Seattle, WA. This vaccine design was created in under three hours after receiving the genome data from China, which in itself is a world record, followed by swift initiation of clinical trials. Such expeditiousness in the field of medical research has never been seen before and is made possible in part by the flawless translation of complex, emerging scientific data surrounding this pathogen and the disease it causes.

Clinical Trial Regulations: Translation

With the USA already conducting human trials, and the UK, Australia, France, China, and many more getting ready to begin testing their own, many further translations will be required as this process continues. Each clinical trial must conform with the guidelines set out by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki.

Both clinical protocols and medical packaging and labels must be accurately translated into local languages, sometimes even requiring back translations, and recurs through each of the subsequent trial phases. Naturally, this lengthy process has and will continue to be expedited as much as possible in light of the current circumstances, while maintaining the demanded level of medical translation exactness.

Informed Consent Forms

Informed consent forms for human participants in trials must also be translated into the mother tongue of the participant to enable properly informed consent and ensure that medical ethical standards are maintained throughout testing.

Keeping the Public Informed:

Access to Information

The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are each releasing resources in many languages, allowing access to accurate, reliable information on the outbreak. In this way, governments and healthcare systems can ensure that their communities are kept up-to-date with changing medical advice in their own language. This is helping to alleviate unnecessary risks, reduce the spread of misinformation and guard against panic.

Remote Interpreting

It is vital that medical facilities and primary care physicians are able to provide remote care provisions to any patient who may require it, including those who either do not speak English fluently, or who may not be confident/comfortable discussing medical issues in a second language. Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, however, it has become too dangerous to jeopardize the health of medical interpreters in hospital settings. Therefore, over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI) have largely taken the place of in-person/on-site interpreters in medical settings for the time being.  Check out our blog on Remote Interpreting and how these services are of great importance. 

Medical Translation Partners

Medical language services are of the utmost importance in our society, especially today. Whether that be a remote interpreter helping a patient to properly communicate with their physician or an expert medical translator, translating cutting edge scientific research into a potential vaccine to combat the spread of COVID-19 or simply translating a patient’s medical records from a foreign country into English so that doctors can make a more effective diagnosis and prescribe a more efficacious course of treatment based on the patient’s medical history. Access to the right information, at the right time, is the key to protecting our communities in times of crisis.

When choosing a medical translation provider, always verify that they employ specialized, experienced and native speaker linguists. Don’t be hesitant to check that they also comply with any relevant regulations such as ISO standards, specifically ISO 9001:2008, and if necessary EN 15038, and also have translation certificates available to provide if needed.

At PGLS, our quality control measures are second to none and we are proud to have experienced, specialized interpreters who put patients first, and medical translators who provide flawless translations for every medical translation project.

Contact us today to talk about your medical translation and interpretation needs and ensure your ability to communicate what matters most, when it matters most.