Washington, Feb 2 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Wednesday promised to bring “a fierce sense of urgency” to the fight against cancer, as he said his administration has done to the battle against Covid-19.
The president spoke at the White House to launch an initiative that he had headed when he served as vice president from 2009-2017 under Barack Obama and which has as its goal “ending cancer as we know it.”
He said that just as we rely on science to develop vaccines and cutting edge treatments against Covid-19, his administration will devote urgent attention to the fight against cancer.
Biden – whose son Beau died in 2015 of glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer – set the objective for reducing the cancer death rate by 50 percent over the next 25 years, a target that he said was “bold, … ambitious” but “completely doable.”
He noted that over the past 20 years cancer deaths have been reduced by 27 percent in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The president said that his plan seeks to transform “death sentences” due to cancer into illnesses that people can live with, speaking before an audience of about 100 people, including cancer survivors, researchers, physicians, caregivers and families.
“I know cancer’s scary. Going to the doctor can be scary. But screening is how you catch it before it’s too late,” Biden said, adding “Let’s show the world what’s possible, let’s show the world that we’re committed. Let’s show we can do big things.”
The president noted that cancer continues to be the No. 2 cause of death in the US, behind only cardiovascular disease, adding that it has killed more people than Covid-19 over the past two years.
Therefore, he issued a call to make up for time lost during the pandemic in detecting cancer, given that over the past two years Covid-19 has been prioritized and thus many Americans have postponed medical exams that could now be key in finding hidden cancer from which they may be suffering.
In his last State of the Union speech before Congress in 2016, Obama tasked then-Vice President Biden with heading the so-called “Moonshot” to fight cancer, establishing a parallel with the promise made in 1962 by the late President John F. Kennedy to send a man to the Moon.
In December 2016, when Obama was still president, Congress approved $1.8 billion in funding for the National Cancer Institute over a seven-year period, ending in 2023.
Biden, at present, has no intention of asking Congress for more funding for that institute, although he does want financing to create a new agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H) to focus on cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s research.