Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Moving Forward to 2021
Dear Research Advocate,
Earlier this week, Congress passed a long-awaited legislative package containing FY21 funding and COVID-19 emergency dollars. However, President Trump has publicly criticized the bill and of this writing, it’s unclear whether he will sign it or seek changes. The current Continuing Resolution keeping the federal government open expires on December 28, 2020. Needless to say, we are closely monitoring the situation.
Let’s look at the bill Congress approved: For FY21, it contains increases over the prior year of over $1 billion for NIH, $200 million for NSF, $125 million for the CDC, and $42 million for the FDA. Unfortunately, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality was flat-funded. The bill also includes COVID-19 related emergency funding for NIH, CDC, and FDA. Read our Statement here. You may also find this funding chart helpful as well as this summary of the emergency supplemental funding.
As Research!America’s Vice President of Strategy and Communications Jenny Luray said in an interview with Bloomberg Law, “Particularly in light of COVID-19, we’re going to need to catch up and build out in FY22.” It is indeed critical to fund and restart the research stalled because of the pandemic, and to provide overall funding to NIH, CDC, FDA, NSF, and AHRQ in a manner that is truly commensurate with their missions to protect and advance the well-being of our nation. Patients are waiting.
Let’s Talk About Vaccine Communication: As COVID-19 vaccines become more available, the public’s trust will become more important than ever. Surveys show increases in the percentage of Americans willing to be vaccinated. However, concerning levels of distrust remain, including among Black Americans, while misinformation is more rampant than ever. As we have noted previously, we need up-to-date research on the most effective approaches to use in those communities around the country with the greatest hesitancy.
Trust for America’s Health, along with the National Medical Association and UnidosUS, recently brought organizations focused on civil rights and public health together with government officials to discuss barriers to COVID-19 vaccination. The result is an important document with specific policy recommendations: Building Trust in and Access to a COVID-19 Vaccine Among People of Color and Tribal Nations.
- Two other recently published resources: The National Institute of Health’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research released a summary of vaccine confidence research. A global perspective is included in the Guide to COVID-19 Vaccine Communications from the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida School of Journalism and Communications. They are hosting a webinar on January 5, 2021, at 11 a.m ET in conjunction with the Kavli Foundation-funded Society Civic Science Initiative.
Thank You for Your Support: Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been in touch to outline our intentions for building a Science Strong Future. I hope you will join me, as many have, by making a gift to support Research!America. We believe a Science Strong Future is one in which:
- National support for research is sound and expanding.
- Our R&D infrastructure is equipped to discover and implement new therapies and cures.
- Lessons learned from COVID-19 shape the next phase of medical and public health progress, including public-private partnerships.
- The patient voice is respected and resounding.
- Public trust in science is strong.
- Congressional champions for R&D and public health are many.
We stand committed to restoring trust in science and building a Science Strong Future. Your gift will help us ensure our nation emerges from COVID-19 with an unprecedented commitment to science. To make a gift, please click here, or mail your check to Research!America, P.O. Box 222451, Chantilly, VA 20153-2451 or call 703-739-2577.
A Short Break: We are taking a break next week and will resume with Weekly Letter #489 in 2021. The Board of Directors, my colleagues, and I extend our very best wishes to you and your family for the holidays.
Thank you for your partnership. I look forward to working together to accomplish great advocacy in the coming year! We are stronger together.
Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.