51% of cancer researchers report all work halted due to COVID-19
More than half of American Cancer Society grantees report all of their cancer research or training activities are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, survey results showed.
Cancer society representatives emailed a survey in April to the society’s 744 current grantees to determine the impact COVID-19 had on their funded projects, as well as to obtain information that could help guide the society’s response to the pandemic.
Two-thirds (66%; n = 488) of grantees responded.
When asked about the impact of the pandemic on their research or training, 51% reported a high impact, meaning all of their research or training activities had been paused until further notice. About four in 10 (43%) reported a modest impact, meaning some aspects had been paused. Only 7% reported a low impact, meaning research or training continued as planned.
The survey assessed whether grantees were currently working primarily from home or teleworking. More than half (54%) reported working entirely remotely; 32% said they were working mostly remotely with occasional visits to their office, lab or campus; and 8% said they were working entirely or mostly in their normal work setting.
When asked how their institutions had responded to the pandemic, 4% of respondents said their institution remained entirely open. The majority (91%) reported only essential personnel were allowed, 59% reported laboratories had been closed and 57% reported research at their institutions had been temporarily halted.
“It is abundantly clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on cancer research,” William C. Phelps, PhD, the cancer society’s senior vice president of extramural research, said in a press release. “In some labs queried for our survey, all nonessential research had been halted, with research on COVID-19 being the only type of research being encouraged. In addition to the deceleration in progress against cancer, these laboratories and institutions will face significant additional costs associated with restarting the cancer research enterprise in the coming months.”
The cancer society announced it will delay the start date of its next round of grants until Sept. 1 — 2 months later than planned — to accommodate the temporary closing of many research labs.