Stop curtailing safe responsible health care research during the COVID-19 pandemic

Stop curtailing safe responsible health care research during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Daniel Merfeld started this petition to Universities and Hospitals

Research saves lives and reduces suffering. As one of many examples, each day, falls alone lead to health care costs of about $300,000 and kill about 300 Americans. Most falls are preventable; research will reduce falls and associated costs.

In response to the current coronavirus crisis, some universities, hospitals, and research institutions are severely curtailing research. As one example, the Ohio State University halted almost all human research on March 13. Extrapolated nationwide, on March 17, just 4 days into this research shutdown, the estimated impact due to delayed research for falls alone had already reached $1,200,000 and 1,200 deaths. Since this shutdown is delaying cures and treatments for hundreds (if not thousands) of health disorders, the impact on US deaths and health care costs would massively exceed those of falls alone. For comparison, on March 17 the COVID-19 death total in the US was at least 86 and the worldwide death total was at least 7,112.

As scientists, we believe: (a) the answer is more research not less, and (b) research shut-downs are proceeding without appropriate consideration of the costs, including deaths, caused by curtailing research. This includes, but it not limited to, delays in research that could protect us better against a potential 2nd wave of COVID-19. While no researcher should proceed with research protocols that put them, their team, or human subjects at risk, many research protocols can be performed safely and should proceed with all due caution even in the midst of COVID-19.

Research will reduce deaths and health care costs. Because it is never too late to reverse rapid decisions forced by external circumstances, we request that the NIH provide guidance that emphasizes these contributions of research even in challenging times, and we request that all research institutions fully consider societal costs, including deaths caused by research delays, as they make difficult decisions.

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