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President Biden Relaunches 'Cancer Moonshot' Program

On February 3, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden relaunched the White House’s “Cancer Moonshot” program, with the goal of developing innovative new treatments for the disease, as well as eradicating it altogether. The objective is bold, namely, to reduce the cancer death rate by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years.

Biden had initially spearheaded the effort in 2016 after the death of his son Beau to brain cancer at age 46. The original initiative was funded at 1.8 billion dollars over a seven-year period. 400 million dollars of the original amount is still scheduled to be distributed over 2022 and 2023.

While the current rededication does not come with the allocation of new funds, Biden is overseeing the creation of a “Cancer Cabinet.” This collaboration is composed of representatives from the departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Energy and Agriculture, in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and other members of the executive branch. It will better coordinate efforts at fighting the disease.

Biden, who made a vow in 2016 to cure cancer, urged Congress to allocate funds to his new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), which spearheads innovation in treating it, as well as Alzheimer’s. According to a White House official, mRNA technology, which was integral to the COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and others, holds promise in combating cancer.

In addition to its current efforts, the White House will also host a Cancer Moonshot Summit, “bringing together agency leadership, patient organizations, biopharmaceutical companies, the research, public health, and healthcare communities and more to highlight innovation, progress and new commitments toward ending cancer as we know it.”

In the fight to cure cancer, the Biden administration wants to be held accountable. It launched the Cancer Moonshot website, where Americans can check the progress of the initiative, as well as share their stories and ideas about combating the disease.

In the short term, President Biden emphasized that over 9 million Americans had missed their cancer screenings over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged people to call their doctors to schedule new appointments.

“The experience of cancer — of getting a cancer diagnosis, surviving cancer, losing someone to cancer — has touched virtually every American family,” the website read. “This is personal for the President and First Lady, like it is for so many of you.”

Getty image by Sanjeri.

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