Trump administration ends federal program that studies and tracks dangerous animal-borne viruses (1 Viewer)

superchuck500

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Not surprising given that (1) Science is a declared enemy of this administration and (2) operated out of the USAID office, and Trump and his bureaucrats have targeted "foreign aid" budgets - where the USAID gets most of its funding.

But this is idiotic.

In a move that worries many public health experts, the federal government is quietly shutting down a surveillance program for dangerous animal viruses that someday may infect humans.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that a new animal disease that can also infect humans is discovered every four months. Ending the program, experts fear, will leave the world more vulnerable to lethal pathogens like Ebola and MERS that emerge from unexpected places, such as bat-filled trees, gorilla carcasses and camel barns.

The program, known as Predict and run by the United States Agency for International Development, was inspired by the 2005 H5N1 bird flu scare. Launched 10 years ago, the project has cost about $207 million.
. . .
Dennis Carroll, the former director of USAID’s emerging threats division who helped design Predict, oversaw it for a decade and retired when it was shut down. The surveillance project is closing because of “the ascension of risk-averse bureaucrats,” he said.

Because USAID’s chief mission is economic aid, he added, some federal officials felt uncomfortable funding cutting-edge science like tracking exotic pathogens.

Congress, along with the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were “enormously supportive,” said Dr. Carroll, who is now a fellow at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.

“But things got complicated in the last two years, and by January, Predict was essentially collapsed into hibernation.”
The end of the program “is definitely a loss,” said Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit global health organization that received funding from the program. “Predict was an approach to heading off pandemics, instead of sitting there waiting for them to emerge and then mobilizing. That’s expensive."
 
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Saint_Ward

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Sad, because this was a smart way to try to get ahead of problems, and seems to have been pretty cheap.

I don't know if they provided any value. I.e. what did they see ahead of time? I'd have to look into it.

But, let's not totally over react. This was a 10 yr old agency, but a response to the bird flu scare of 2005.

I do agree, it is better to try to be ahead of things, than just react to them.
 
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superchuck500

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I don't know if they provided any value. I.e. what did they see ahead of time? I'd have to look into it.

But, let's not totally over react. This was a 10 yr old agency, but a response to the bird flu scare of 2005.

I do agree, it is better to try to be ahead of things, than just react to them.
The 'bird flu' (H5N1) didn't go away - and scientists believe that it mutates easily, which means that current mitigation could be useless against a mutation. Staying ahead of the virus with international coordination is critical to preventing an epidemic.

But more importantly, the "response" wasn't necessarily to the virus itself but the episode demonstrated a glaring gap in global readiness that required greater international coordination. The US is among the best situated to provide that kind of expertise and funding - and that's the real purpose of this program. Yes, the CDC is a player here but the CDC's mission is essentially domestic.

Pathogens don't respect the boundaries of nation-states. Ebola, which originates with bats, made its way to the United States for the first time in 2014. Global mortality with ebola is about 50%.

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The Moose

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The levels of stupid just keep amazing me.

When you think you can't get any more here a whole level of stupid you did not see coming.
 
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superchuck500

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I don't know if they provided any value. I.e. what did they see ahead of time? I'd have to look into it.
I also meant to respond to this. Value metrics can be a fool's game when it comes to these kinds of investments because mitigating a single pandemic can be invaluable, whether it has happened yet or in the future.

But according to the article, the value is not purely in potential: The initiative has collected over 140,000 biological samples from animals and found over 1,000 new viruses, including a new strain of Ebola. Predict also trained about 5,000 people in 30 African and Asian countries, and has built or strengthened 60 medical research laboratories, mostly in poor countries.
 

nolaswede

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The administration doesn’t want to pay the cities where Trump held his “rallies “. Not surprised they don’t want to pay for the important things!
 

Saint_Ward

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I also meant to respond to this. Value metrics can be a fool's game when it comes to these kinds of investments because mitigating a single pandemic can be invaluable, whether it has happened yet or in the future.

But according to the article, the value is not purely in potential: The initiative has collected over 140,000 biological samples from animals and found over 1,000 new viruses, including a new strain of Ebola. Predict also trained about 5,000 people in 30 African and Asian countries, and has built or strengthened 60 medical research laboratories, mostly in poor countries.
Thanks.

Sounds like an inexpensive and efficient program. So, of course we'd cut it. Trump needs to play a few more rounds of golf..
 

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