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National Groups Call on U.S. Federal Health Agency Leaders to Stand Strong for Science Over Politics in the Fight Against COVID-19

Published September 21, 2020

Lab technicians testing vial of blood.

Faith in Public Health Guidance, Vaccine, and Treatment Approval Processes Must be Restored to Overcome the Pandemic

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2020 –The Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) and 78 other national organizations representing patients, healthcare providers, and multi-stakeholder coalitions signed a letter directed to the leaders of federal health care agencies urging them to rise above the political considerations and focus on providing the American public with information about the well-established guidelines in place to ensure safe and effective COVID-19 prevention, detection, and treatment. Information and decisions that are perceived as anything less than science-based weaken the public’s confidence in research and innovation, and hinder adherence to mitigation efforts. In fact, a recent STAT/Harris poll found 78 percent of Americans worry the COVID-19 vaccine approval process is being driven by politics rather than science. It is this sentiment that federal government health officials must work with trusted partners to change if they intend to curb the deadly spread of COVID-19 and encourage widespread acceptance of an effective vaccine.

“Public perception of political influence in scientific decision-making is causing widespread confusion and distrust. We call on our federal health agency leaders to be straight with policymakers and the public about what lies ahead in the fight against COVID-19, without sugarcoating or political spin,” said Susan Peschin, MHS, President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research, which spearheaded the effort. “As our letter states, ‘stand strong, and we will join with you to communicate that scientists are leading the way to ensure treatments and vaccines are safe and effective—and in turn—lead the nation to full recovery.’ The stakes couldn’t be higher.”

The letter, published today in the Washington, DC, edition of the Wall Street Journal to reach a wide swath of federal decisionmakers ahead of tomorrow’s Senate HELP hearing, COVID-19: An Update on the Federal Response, emphasizes the vital role American public health officials play in the prevention, detection, and treatment of the coronavirus. The letter outlines:

  • To promote public health and economic recovery, government decisions must be based on evidence – not politics or individual interests.
  • By clearly explaining the processes in place to ensure scientific rigor, federal agencies and government leaders will build the confidence and public trust necessary for America to meet this challenge.
  • Evidence derived from clinical trials that meet FDA standards should drive assessment of which COVID-19 therapeutics are safe and effective.
  • Routine, rapid, accurate, and easy-to-access COVID-19 testing—followed by timely and efficient contact tracing—is needed to help prevent community spread.

The 79 organizations listed below signed the letter:

  • AcademyHealth
  • Aging Life Care Association
  • AliveAndKickn
  • Alliance for Aging Research
  • Alpha-1 Foundation
  • Alstrom Syndrome International
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Association for Dental Research
  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
  • American Association on Health and Disability
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Geriatrics Society
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Pharmacists Association
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Society for Cell Biology
  • American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
  • American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • Arthritis Foundation
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Association of Black Cardiologists
  • Association of Jewish Aging Services
  • Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
  • Big Cities Health Coalition
  • Biophysical Society
  • CancerCare
  • Caregiver Action Network
  • Coalition for the Life Sciences
  • Consortium of Social Science Associations
  • Entomological Society of America
  • Epilepsy Foundation
  • Everylife Foundation for Rare Diseases
  • Families USA
  • Federation of American Scientists
  • FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
  • Friends of Cancer Research
  • Global Healthy Living Foundation
  • Global Liver Institute
  • GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
  • HealthyWomen
  • Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network
  • Infectious Diseases Society of America
  • Lakeshore Foundation
  • Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.
  • Lupus Foundation of America
  • Men’s Health Network
  • Mended Hearts
  • MLD Foundation
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
  • National Breast Cancer Coalition
  • National Communication Association
  • National Consumers League
  • National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
  • National Health Council
  • National Hispanic Medical Association
  • National Medical Association
  • National Minority Quality Forum
  • National Organization for Rare Disorders
  • National Psoriasis Foundation
  • National Treasury Employees Union (representing the employees of FDA)
  • NBIA Disorders Association
  • Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation
  • Prevent Blindness
  • Prostate Cancer International
  • Public Affairs Council
  • Spina Bifida Association
  • The Arc of the United States
  • The Gerontological Society of America
  • The Mended Hearts, Inc
  • Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy, University of the Pacific
  • Tribal Ground LLC
  • USP

About the Alliance for Aging Research

The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance believes advances in research help people live longer, happier, more productive lives and reduce healthcare costs over the long term. For more than 30 years, the Alliance has guided efforts to substantially increase funding and focus for aging at the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration; built influential coalitions to guide groundbreaking regulatory improvements for age-related diseases; and created award-winning, high-impact educational materials to improve the health and well-being of older adults and their family caregivers. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Janelle Germanos
Communications Manager
[email protected]
(202) 688-1209

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September 23, 2020

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