The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research issued the following statement in regards to COVID-19 relief, vaccinations, and more.
President Signs FY 2021 Spending Bills, COVID-19 Relief into Law
President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 113) on December 27, 2020, including FY 2021 funding for the NIH along with all 12 FY 2021 spending bills and a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. The bill includes a program level of $42.9 billion for the NIH, a $1.25 billion increase over the comparable FY 2020 spending level. The bill also provides $1.25 billion in emergency COVID-19 relief funding for the NIH through Sept. 30, 2024, divided as $1.15 billion for research and clinical trials related to long-term studies of COVID-19 and $100 million for the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program.
Following House and Senate passage of the bill on December 21, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research issued a press statement expressing appreciation that the bill includes some emergency funding for NIH and a FY 2021 investment for NIH that keeps pace with inflation in light of difficult discretionary spending constraints, and urging lawmakers to work quickly to provide additional emergency funding for the NIH in the new year.
Peer-Reviewed Report on Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Publishes
Preliminary results from a Phase 3 clinical trial of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Moderna confirm that the vaccine is nearly 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms, as reported in a December 30 NIH news release. The trial enrolled over 30,000 adults across the country and recorded over 400 symptomatic COVID-19 cases in the volunteers, with 22 cases identified in those who had received at least one of two doses of the vaccine. The report adds that more data is needed to determine if those vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 are still able to transmit disease to others.
NIH Study Uncovers Blood Vessel Damage and Inflammation In COVID-19 Patients’ Brains but No Infection
Researchers from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) reported research findings that patients who died of COVID-19 showed damage to blood vessels in the brain, as reported in a December 30 NIH news release. Researchers reported no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in brain tissue, rather that the brain damage “may be caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the virus,” said Avindra Nath, MD, clinical director at the NINDS. “We hope these results will help doctors understand the full spectrum of problems patients may suffer so that we can come up with better treatments,” Nath added.
NIH Director Shares Pandemic Lessons Learned with WebMD
NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, described his coronavirus pandemic lessons learned, and personal impacts in a December 23 interview with WebMD. Collins highlighted the realization that researchers from all disciplines are able to come together “in new and creative collaborative arrangements and get things done a lot faster than people might have thought possible.” Collins also noted personally that his work schedule changed dramatically, but it has been a great opportunity to bring the “full power of science” into action on a once in a lifetime