ASH Letter to Congress Urges Approval of Additional COVID-19 Relief Funds
The Society advocates for continued funding for COVID-19 treatments for immunocompromised people
(WASHINGTON, June 21, 2022) — Today, ASH and nine other groups that also represent physicians who care for immunocompromised/suppressed patients submitted a letter to the House of Representatives and the Senate voicing the critical need to prioritize this vulnerable population as additional COVID-19 relief funds are considered. Such support will help sustain research for and patient and provider access to crucial preventative therapies and treatments for immunocompromised individuals who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
ASH President Jane N. Winter, MD, of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, issued the following statement:
“As widespread COVID-19 vaccination has enabled many to return to in-person activities, and as mask mandates and social distancing precautions have largely been abandoned across the country, vaccinated populations may presume that COVID-19 infection is no longer an imminent health threat. However, immunocompromised individuals like the patients our members treat, who account for approximately 3% of the United States population and include those undergoing cancer treatment, bone marrow and organ transplants, and those with autoimmune diseases, remain at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection. Patients with severe COVID-19 infections are also at higher risk of experiencing long COVID symptoms.
In our letter, we join our colleagues from other organizations to urge Members of Congress to prioritize this vulnerable population as additional COVID-19 relief funds are considered. As a Society, we are committed to continuing to advocate for individuals with hematologic conditions such as blood cancers, many of whom have received bone marrow transplants or chemotherapy treatments that have compromised their immune systems. We know firsthand that, as a result of treatment, these patients often cannot produce an adequate immune response to vaccination and therefore have less protection from infection, so it is vital that they retain access to preventive therapies and treatments as well as new therapies that are developed as COVID-19 continues to evolve.
Furthermore, protecting those who cannot be vaccinated and those with suboptimal vaccination responses helps not only to mitigate the spread of the virus for everyone but also to slow the emergence of new variants and alleviate strains on our health care system.
ASH strongly encourages Congress to continue to allocate funding for COVID-19 prophylactic therapies, like Evusheld, and treatments, such as Paxlovid, which can be lifesaving to many immunocompromised people. While much of the population has begun to resume pre-pandemic routines, immunocompromised patients do not have such privileges. As cases continue to climb, preserving funding for these therapies is crucial to protect our most vulnerable patients.
To date, Congress has supported efforts to fund the development of a variety of COVID-19 interventions, including tests, vaccines, and therapies. ASH applauds these efforts to ensure that vulnerable patients have access to life-saving resources and urges Congress to continue to approve additional COVID-19 relief funds. Further federal investment is needed not only to secure an adequate supply of current therapeutics, but also to support the next generation of vaccines and treatments to protect those at highest risk from COVID-19.”
- COVID-19 relief letter to the House of Representatives
- COVID-19 relief letter to the Senate
- ASH COVID-19 Resources
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 60 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH’s flagship journal, Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), is the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, and Blood Advances (www.bloodadvances.org) is the Society’s online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.
Kira Sampson, American Society of Hematology
[email protected], 202-499-1796