American Lung Association Reflects on Anniversary of COVID-19 Action Initiative

Investments in research, education, advocacy accelerated progress in the effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic

In April of 2020, in response to the urgent threat caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Lung Association launched the COVID-19 Action Initiative, a three-year initiative to end COVID-19 and prevent future respiratory viruses with pandemic potential. The funds raised to support the COVID-19 Action Initiative enabled the organization to swiftly respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic through investments in critical research, education and advocacy efforts.

Since launching the COVID-19 Action Initiative, the Lung Association has invested in promising COVID-19 research projects, including 12 COVID-19 and Emerging Respiratory Viruses Awards. These commitments included expanding COVID-19 research within the current studies of the Airways Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) Network, examining the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine for transplant recipients, and the molecular analysis of antibody responses to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities, particularly in communities of color.

“The American Lung Association has always played a key role in addressing respiratory viruses ranging from our work with influenza to funding research that has advanced our understanding of the virus that causes COVID-19,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “Thanks to the funding provided through key partnerships, we’ve supported outstanding COVID-19 research and remain committed to educating the public with the latest science-based information to increase public awareness of the importance of vaccination in order to end the pandemic.”

The Lung Association continues to share fact-based information about COVID-19 and the availability of vaccines, generating over 2.5 million website views. The organization hosted 11 COVID-19 virtual town halls and 7 patient webinars, reaching more than 12,000 healthcare professionals. In partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, the Lung Association developed a Provider Training portal for COVID-19, generating 356,141 views and 62,284 training completions.

The pandemic highlighted an existing, deep gap in resources and healthcare access within underserved Black, Latino and Indigenous communities to help address COVID-19. In September of 2020, the star-studded #Act4Impact benefit drew over 250,000 viewers, generated 1.8 billion media impressions and highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities of color. In 2021 the Lung Association partnered with The Center for Black Health & Equity to develop Better For It, a culturally relevant, guide to help people start the conversation about vaccination with their families. Additional Better For It toolkits and educational materials have been developed for the Latino and Indigenous communities as well.

“As the nation’s champion of lung health, it has been crucial for the Lung Association to take a leadership role to ensure that all Americans have access to trusted resources about vaccination so their families can make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination,” Wimmer said. “Through our comprehensive approach to raising awareness and education, we’ve reached millions of Americans and made meaningful progress toward defeating COVID-19.”

In addition, the Lung Association ensured that key provisions expanding quality and affordable healthcare coverage were included in the American Rescue Plan Act. The Lung Association has also advocated for access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment at no-cost for all individuals in the United States, increased funding for Medicaid, and investment in the nation’s public health infrastructure.

Looking forward to year two of the COVID-19 Action Initiative, the Lung Association anticipates funding additional research that examines the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, raising awareness of the continued importance of COVID-19 vaccination and advocating for public policies that benefit all Americans affected by the disease.

Support for the COVID-19 Action Initiative was provided by CVS Health; Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada); Genentech; GSK; Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron; 3M; UnitedHealth Group, with its UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Anthem Foundation; and Amgen.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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