Dear National Academies Community:
As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the nation and the world, policymakers and the public are counting on science, engineering, and medicine to discover how the virus infects humans, slow its spread, treat those infected, and provide solutions that lay the groundwork for recovery. At the National Academies, we are stepping up in a number of ways to respond to this crisis. We are rapidly mobilizing critical expertise to inform government response and recovery efforts with evidence-based guidance, and facilitating collaboration across research disciplines – and between the public and private sectors – to help fight this pandemic.
Since the early stages of the outbreak, we have been in regular contact with the executive branch and members of Congress and their staff, and we are marshalling our knowledge and resources as needed. At the request of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, we formed a standing committee to engage regularly with the federal government on key questions related to the pandemic. The committee is already providing rapid expert consultations to a number of urgent questions, such as the available research on the surface stability and incubation period of the virus.
The National Academies are uniquely positioned to provide expertise and evidence across the span of issues related to this crisis, including at the international level through our global networks. Among the many response and recovery issues that the National Academies are prepared and experienced to address are the continuity of the workforce and critical infrastructure operations; the resilience of testing, medical treatment, food, technology, and other supply chains; and rapid scaling of vaccine production. Much of our past work also offers timely insights to confront the pandemic, including guidance on streamlining regulatory approval of new treatments, adjusting standards of health care in crises, and countering misinformation, and we are making sure that they are readily accessible. In addition, we are sharing insights and emerging evidence with professionals and the public through webinars on topics such as protecting public transportation and the science of social distancing measures.
At this difficult time, our mission of advising the nation is more important than ever, but we are equally committed to protecting the health and safety of our staff, volunteer experts, and members of our Academies. We’ve implemented measures to ensure that our work – both on the pandemic and on other critical issues – continues during this crisis. Most of our staff are teleworking from home, and we greatly appreciate their efforts. In addition, our expert committee meetings, workshops, symposia, and other activities are taking place on virtual platforms.
Our work is made possible through the dedication of our esteemed volunteer experts and members, who not only are highly recognized in their fields but also work tirelessly in service for the public good. We will be calling on many of you in the days and weeks ahead. We are also grateful to our sponsors and philanthropic partners. Your continued support and commitment to our mission is invaluable, and we will do our best to meet your needs throughout this time.
And of course, all of us are greatly indebted to those on the front lines in this crisis – the first responders and health care workers, and also those who are keeping grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential services up and running – and to the many researchers who are working around the clock in government, industry, and university laboratories to discover vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
The National Academies have a long history of helping to steer the nation through many major crises. We have no doubt that together we will rise to the challenges this pandemic poses, too, and help put us on a path to recovery.
President, National Academy of Sciences
John L. Anderson
President, National Academy of Engineering
Victor J. Dzau
President, National Academy of Medicine