AACR Urges Congress to Take Action Against COVID-19

The American Association for Cancer Research wrote to Congress urging them to take action against the pandemic, and outlined how the oncology community can help.

The board of directors for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recently sent a letter to the US Congress urging them to take immediate action against the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) and protect patients with cancer.

They started the letter by applauding the recent passage of the $2 trillion “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic and provide more funding to hospitals.

But cancer professionals will also be key in fighting COVID-19 explained the AACR, especially as “there is a convergence of coronavirus biology with cancer research that will have clinical importance.”

“The scientific and clinical knowledge of AACR members positions us to contribute in a major way to the deployment of resources and the advancement of research to overcome this pandemic,” they wrote. “Time is of the essence, and we call on you and your colleagues in Congress to move swiftly forward to take the following steps to alleviate the COVID-19 public health emergency, while also ensuring patients with cancer are protected and the cancer workforce remains vibrant.”

The steps the AACR asked Congress to make were:

  • Urge President Donald Trump to implement the Defense Production Act (DPA), encouraging industries to accelerate the production of desperately needed medical equipment.
  • Implement widespread testing of individuals with symptoms, as well as those without symptoms who have been exposed to the virus or who are high-risk (including patients with cancer).
  • Continue a nationwide “social distancing” protocol for as long as necessary to decrease infection and death from COVID-19, as well as protect healthcare providers.
  • Continue to have a “rigorous, science-based approach” of the FDA in its assessment and approval of COVID-19 therapies
  • Use the FDA’s expanded access program (aka “compassionate use”) for patients to access investigational medical products. Also, urge the FDA to deploy a COVID-19—focused version of Project Facilitate.
  • Ensure there is the proper infrastructure for telehealth so patients with cancer can safely continue their care.
  • Use the cancer researcher and oncology healthcare providers who are addressing COVID-19.
  • Continue to support cancer and medical research.
  • Sustain innovation and progress that benefits patients and survivors of cancer.

“We recognize the need to take action immediately to vanquish this virus that threatens the lives of millions of Americans, ravages our economy, and derails scientific progress. Otherwise, our healthcare system will fail and our most vulnerable patients, including those with cancer, will disproportionately suffer. The AACR and its members stand ready to work with you and other members of Congress to achieve the vital recommendations set forth herein,” they wrote.

Read more:

  • In COVID-19 Crisis, FDA Bends Rules to Bring More Equipment to Facilities
  • Cancer Immunotherapy for COVID-19: 'Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary Measures'