Coronavirus: ACP calls for science to stop the spread

September 1, 2020

The group says public health authorities should base their decisions purely on science.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is calling for public health policies aimed at ending the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to be based on science.

In a statement from ACP Board of Regents Chair Heather E. Gantzer, MD, FACP, the organization urges local public health authorities to use science, based on the best available evidence in the fight against COVID-19 and to not be pressured or influenced to issue policies that are not based on evidence or the recommendations of their own scientists.

Making decisions not based on evidence can have a detrimental effect on the public’s trust and adherence to evidence-based guidelines. With the pandemic still a widespread public health emergency, guidance must be developed in a highly transparent process without any interference, the statement says.

The ACP says that the recent revision of the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidelines limiting the push for the testing of asymptomatic patients lacks transparency and clarity which sends a confusing message to physicians and patients on appropriate and necessary testing. Asymptomatic patients help spread COVID-19 and the ability to perform widespread tests is critical to manage the spread of the disease. The ACP recommends more testing to identify cases in the absence of a currently effective vaccine or treatment.

The ACP urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute of Health to transparently convey the scientific rationale for their guidance or any changes to their recommendations.

“While ACP is encouraged by the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine, the development process must be fully transparent, and not circumvent regulatory standards for safety and effectiveness,” Gantzer says in the statement. “Physicians, in particular, must be informed about the safety and standards for approvals of any vaccines. Hesitance to receive the vaccine remains a concern amongst patients, and rushing vaccines to approval that have not been shown through clinical trials to be safe and effective would be dangerous to health, and potentially undermine confidence in all vaccines, not just ones for COVID-19 vaccines.”