The AACR and the cancer community remained steadfast in its mission of preventing and curing all cancers during the COVID-19 pandemic while also focusing its scientific and policy expertise to combat the pandemic head-on. These contributions were made possible by federal investment in biomedical science.
COVID-19 significantly delayed routine cancer screening and caused treatment modifications for patients with cancer. The pandemic also necessitated patient-centric changes to cancer clinical trials, allowing patients with cancer to have continued access to lifesaving cancer care.
Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions, including cancer, are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, and individuals from racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Cancer researchers were uniquely positioned to respond to the COVID-19 crisis while continuing their quest to prevent and cure cancer. Decades of research into mRNA vaccines for cancer immunotherapy paved the way for the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines at an unprecedented speed.
COVID-19 led to closures of research laboratories, a pause in clinical trials, and reduced career development opportunities for the scientific workforce. The pandemic also disrupted patient care, reducing cancer screening, delaying cancer treatments, and exacerbating cancer health disparities.
While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted cancer care, it also drove innovations that could improve future outcomes, such as accelerated adoption of telemedicine, changes in the design of clinical trials to facilitate participation, and development of a framework for international collaboration and sharing of resources.
Policies that were implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic included increased flexibility in clinical trial design, a widespread adoption of telemedicine, an expansion of health care access and insurance coverage, and increased support for the health care workforce.
To optimize our response to the next public health crisis, the AACR calls on policy makers and public health officials to invest in medical research and the workforce, expand access to health care and telehealth, and strengthen and modernize clinical trial development.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted the everyday lives of billions of people, exhausted the health care infrastructure and workforce, upended societal norms, and shattered economies worldwide. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in December 2019, one in six Americans has been diagnosed with the disease and...