Don’t Restrict Valid Pathogen Research, ASM & Partners Warn Congress

ASM, with the support of fellow science organizations and institutions, issued the following letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging them to reject attempts to impose restrictions on federally funded research or the operations of federal science agencies based on premature conclusions about how the pandemic emerged. Such efforts could have serious, negative unintended consequences for potentially lifesaving research.

This letter follows ASM’s call for governments, international agencies, and scientists to work together to initiate an objective evaluation of the virus’s origins.

Dear Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Granger and Ranking Member Cole:

As Congress exercises its oversight authority over the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to lead with science. Scientists, who have the appropriate subject-matter expertise, the best opportunity to answer key questions regarding the origin and transmission of the pandemic. Congress should follow an evidence-based process to ensure answers are grounded in sound science, are as complete as possible, and based in fact.

We caution against adopting policy changes absent scientific evidence, because doing so could further undermine the public’s confidence in science. For future scientific progress, the implications of such proposals extend far beyond the immediate challenge of the pandemic.

We urge you to reject attempts to impose restrictions on federally funded research or the operations of federal science agencies based on premature conclusions about how the pandemic emerged. Such efforts could have serious, negative unintended consequences for potentially lifesaving research. They would harm the very ecosystem that developed the novel tests, vaccines and medical countermeasures that have brought us through the pandemic.

Continued support for research is essential for tackling a number of society’s most vexing challenges, including combatting emerging infectious diseases and preventing the next pandemic.

On behalf of the scientists and clinicians our organizations and institutions represent, we urge you to allow the scientific process to play out as we seek to understand how the pandemic began and how we can protect ourselves from future threats to our nation’s health and economy.

Sincerely,

American Society for Microbiology

American Association for Anatomy

American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges

American Dairy Science Association

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

American Society for Investigative Pathology

American Society for Virology

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

Association for Psychological Science

Association of American Cancer Institutes

Association of American Medical Colleges

Biophysical Society

Coalition for the Life Sciences

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Endocrine Society

Entomological Society of America

FASS

HIV Medicine Association

Institute of Food Technologists

International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH)

KidneyCAN

National Association for Biomedical Research

Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Research!America

Rochester Institute of Technology

Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

Society of Toxicology

The Gerontological Society of America

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

The Society for Pediatric Radiology

Veterans for Common Sense

Wayne State University

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