AACI COVID-19 Resources

AACI continues to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic. We will share news, guidelines, and cancer center policies to keep our members informed on COVID-19 as it relates to cancer research and treatment and AACI programs and events.

COVID-19 Discussion Forum

In March 2020 AACI launched a Slack workspace as a forum for AACI cancer center members and National Cancer Institute leaders to share challenges and best practices related to COVID-19 and cancer. To ensure confidentiality and encourage open discussion, all requests to join the forum require administrative approval from AACI. 

AACI Meeting Changes

The health and well-being of AACI meeting attendees, exhibitors, and cancer center patients is our top priority. Throughout the planning of our 2021 meetings, we continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on travel and professional conferences. AACI/AACR Hill Day and the 13th Annual AACI CRI Meeting will be held virtually in 2021. 

Letters to Congress and the President

AACI  joined 130 cancer centers and other institutions in a February 17 letter to President Biden, key members of his administration, and leading state public health officials to strongly encourage prioritizing patients with cancer and survivors of cancer when administering lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.

The letter notes that while widespread, rapid vaccination is a worthy goal, the current, limited supply of vaccines means that many who are at high risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19—including patients with active cancer and cancer survivors—may continue to wait for many months if they are not provided with priority access.

Read the Press Release
Read the Letter

On January 26, AACI submitted a letter to President Biden outlining critical policy priorities for his administration’s first 100 days.

These priorities include addressing cancer disparities; reversing the damage of COVID-19 on cancer research, screening, and prevention; expanding coverage for telemedicine services; and strengthening the underfunded aspects of the previous administration's pediatric cancer initiatives.

Read the Letter

In a November 20 letter, AACI called on the Trump administration to share vital information about its coronavirus response with President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team.

As an association representing 102 leading academic and freestanding cancer centers in North America, AACI joins the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and other major medical associations to ask the Trump administration to cooperate with the Biden transition team to ensure continuity of care for patients, particularly as it relates to COVID-19. 

Read the Press Release
Read and Share the Letter

Two recent presidential proclamations would suspend visa processing for individuals from China and for certain categories of high-skilled, non-immigrant visas from around the world. J-1, F-1, and H-1B visas are critical tools that cancer centers use to attract top talent in scientific research and patient care to the United States.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, AACI believes that cancer centers should be focusing their time and resources in support of policies that foster innovation and economic growth and that promote the health and safety of the American people. Prohibiting the entry of valued STEM students, postdoctoral associates, scientists, and researchers does not address our nation’s public health needs or stimulate economic recovery. 

AACI encourages you to write your member of Congress to remind them that placing limitations on new, non-immigrant visas only serves to impede progress against cancer, COVID-19, and other major illnesses.

Read the Letter

On May 1, AACI sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging the federal government to take the lead in deploying personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals, establishing a consistent national COVID-19 testing strategy, and managing the COVID-19 testing supply chain.

Signed by the leaders of AACI cancer centers across the United States, the letter noted that cancer patients are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 infection due to weakened immune systems and other complications, including cancer therapy side effects that can cause severe, sometimes fatal inflammation of the lungs or other tissues.
Read the Press Release
Read and Share the Letter

In an April 24 letter, AACI called upon congressional leaders to consider the needs of academic cancer centers in any new COVID-19 supplemental response legislation. Priorities include supplemental appropriations for major research agencies and additional funding for hospitals and health systems. AACI also emphasized the priorities outlined in the April 15 letter sent to Congress on behalf of the cancer advocacy community. 

Read the Letter

On April 15, nearly 50 cancer advocacy organizations sent a letter to the Hill regarding the fourth coronavirus relief package. The letter included priorities such as oral chemotherapy parity, requiring insurers to provide a 90-day supply of retail medications, creating a special enrollment period for HealthCare.gov, increasing funding for state Medicaid programs, and providing assistance for people who have lost employer-sponsored health coverage.

AACI drafted the letter with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Cancer Support Community, Friends of Cancer Research, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Read the Letter

In a March 23 letter to President Donald Trump, AACI implored him to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to marshal American manufacturing to forcefully confront the COVID-19 emergency. The association also called for military mobilization to help build temporary hospital facilities and to assist hospital personnel.

"[T]he situation is already desperate in many of our hospitals," cancer center directors wrote. "Failure to act decisively and immediately will undoubtedly result in the tragic, massive, and ultimately avoidable loss of many American lives."

In a March 27 presidential memorandum, President Trump directed his administration to use "any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators." 

As of April 2, the president expanded the DPA order to include General Electric, Hill-Rom Holdings, Medtronic, ResMed, Philips, and Vyaire Medical, all device companies that already produce ventilators.

Read the Press Release
Read and Share the Letter 

AACI Commentary and Press Releases

Sustaining the Use of Telemedicine in Post-Pandemic Cancer Care
By Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD; Cheryl L. Willman, MD; and Robert A. Winn, MD

The rapid shift to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic has had immediate benefits, including reduced risk of exposure to the virus in clinical settings and the removal of transportation barriers for patients and their caregivers.

Since these tools will remain an integral component of cancer care in the future, understanding their impact on access, improved cancer care delivery, health equity, and outcomes is essential. It is equally important to address the impact of reimbursement issues on the viability of telemedicine.

Read the January 2021 Commentary

AACI Partners With Federal Vaccine Panel to Promote Cancer Patient Health

AACI appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) as part of its Vaccine Consultation Panel (VCP). AACI was invited last summer to join the VCP alongside other leading health and science organizations in the U.S., including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association.

Through the VCP, AACI has received periodic updates on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and participated in efforts to educate the cancer center community and the general public on the importance of widespread vaccine uptake. The association previously endorsed a widely-distributed call to action urging policymakers and other stakeholders to eliminate cervical cancer and other cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV) through high vaccine coverage.

Read the Press Release

AACI Applauds Approval of COVID-19 Vaccine, Supports Widespread Vaccination Efforts

AACI commends the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its swift action to grant Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

As an association representing 102 leading academic and freestanding cancer centers in North America, AACI thanks the scientists, researchers, and clinical trial participants who contributed to the development of a safe, effective vaccine for people 16 and older. We also commend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for its efforts to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine, particularly to underserved communities that have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the Press Release

Confronting Our Twin Pandemics: Reflections on the 2020 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting 

By Stephen D. Leach, MD

This year’s AACI/CCAF annual meeting addressed not only the wholly unique challenge of running a cancer center and delivering care while protecting staff, patients, and the community from coronavirus infection, but also the parallel urgent task of overcoming cancer disparities in an atmosphere charged by recent deadly examples of racism and resulting impassioned protests.

Reflecting these challenges, it has been suggested that our society is currently in the midst of twin pandemics—systemic racism and COVID-19—occurring nationally and in our chosen profession. Both are to a large degree structural and institutional challenges, and they often intersect at our centers and in the surrounding communities.

Read the October 2020 Commentary

Telemedicine and Cancer Care
Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Ruben Mesa, MD

Over the past five months, the global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed our lives, from our work and social lives to the ways we deliver and receive health care. Since March, telemedicine has become the norm at Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson. This rapid shift toward telemedicine has underscored the ways that technology can improve cancer care while reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission among patients with cancer. It has also highlighted disparities in access to technology among certain demographic groups. 

Read the August 2020 Commentary

AACI Supports Dr. Fauci and Continued Guidance on COVID-19

AACI stands in strong support of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Drawing from more than 50 years of expertise in infectious diseases—from HIV/AIDS to Ebola and Zika—Dr. Fauci has played an integral role in developing sound public health guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association has worked closely with Dr. Fauci through the National Cancer Institute and other branches of the federal health care system that impact people with cancer and their families. AACI members believe the best way to protect people with cancer and their families during this pandemic is to retain the best scientists with the greatest expertise in the field. Thus, it is critical to ensure that Dr. Fauci’s scientific expertise and guidance continues to inform the American public and to help guide decision-making in public policy. 

Read the Press Release
Read the Support Letter From Science and Public Health Organizations

How AACI’s Corporate Partners Are Helping Cancer Centers and Their Patients Weather the Pandemic

As AACI continues to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic, we are pleased to share this overview of ways that our Corporate Roundtable members are directly supporting cancer centers and their patients during these unprecedented and challenging times.

The AACI Corporate Roundtable provides a forum for AACI cancer centers to address topics of mutual interest with their pharmaceutical industry colleagues. This interaction has the potential to advance the progress of research and ultimately benefit patients with cancer and their families.

COVID-19 assistance from our corporate partners covers a wide range of activities, from maintaining the integrity of clinical trials and ensuring the flow of protective equipment and other supplies to cancer centers, to accelerating vaccine development and providing medicine to patients facing financial hardship.

AACI thanks its Corporate Roundtable members for sharing information about their cancer-related COVID-19 work and for their ongoing support and commitment: AbbVie, Amgen, Astellas, Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Kite, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, and Takeda Oncology

Read the May 2020 Commentary


What AACI Cancer Centers Are Doing to Mitigate Risks

By AACI Staff

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic on Wednesday, March 11; two days later, President Donald Trump proclaimed a national emergency in the United States. AACI members have been taking measures to limit exposure to the coronavirus in order to protect cancer patients, their families, and the community at large from infection with COVID-19. 

The following AACI Commentary provides an overview of members’ current COVID-19 activities, although it may not fully reflect the efforts of AACI’s 100 members. For real-time updates, AACI is launching a platform for members to discuss how they are addressing this evolving public health crisis.  

Read the March 2020 Commentary

Last updated February 18, 2021