Saturday, April 11, 2020

Why was the PREDICT Program Suspended Last Fall?

A discussion from October 29, 2019:
A crucial federal program tracking dangerous diseases is shutting down. Predict, a pandemic preparedness program, thrived under Bush and Obama. Now it’s canceled … Ever since the 2005 H5N1 bird flu scare, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has run a project to track and research these diseases, called Predict. At a cost of $207 million during its existence, the program has collected more than 100,000 samples and found nearly 1,000 novel viruses, including a new Ebola virus ... But on Friday, the New York Times reported that the US government is shutting down the program. According to its former director Dennis Carroll, the program enjoyed enthusiastic support under Bush and Obama, but “things got complicated” in the last few years until the program “essentially collapsed.” … That’s a shame, and it’s indicative of a bigger problem. While pandemics make the news when they happen, efforts to understand, predict, and prevent them are underfunded. The US government has several agencies that do work on pandemic preparedness, but experts say that much more leadership in the area is needed … Predict’s mission, according to USAID, is “detection and discovery of zoonotic” — that is, animal-originating — “diseases at the wildlife-human interface.” Anywhere where wild animals live in close contact with humans, there’s potential for disease transmission. Humans can kill and eat wild animals, exposing themselves to diseases.
Another story from early February:
Shutdown of PREDICT Infectious Disease Program Challenged by Senators Warren and King … The joint letter follows-up on a November request from Senator King, who asked for information on USAID’s decision to end PREDICT. In response to Senator King’s initial letter, USAID indicated that it intends to initiate a successor project – but just two months away from the project’s March 2020 closure, no additional details regarding this replacement have been released.
A more recent discussion:
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic began only a few weeks after the end of PREDICT-2, the last-standing United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats funding programme, which supported a decade of virology, ecology, and epidemiology around the world. Since 2009, PREDICT worked with more than 60 countries to build capacity and strengthen zoonotic pathogen surveillance, and identified at least 931 novel virus species from 145 000 samples of wildlife, livestock, and humans. The end of PREDICT leaves the closely connected Global Virome Project and a much broader coalition of multidisciplinary research in the lurch; one virologist observed to The New York Times that “PREDICT needed to go on for 20 years, not 10”. Despite a lack of immediate causation, the coincidental timing with the emergence of COVID-19 has not gone unnoticed, especially on social media; the issue even gained traction in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, with Senator Elizabeth Warren's plan for COVID-19 response explicitly mentioning the need to restore PREDICT.
Senator Warren was right about the need to restore this program. More needs to be asked as what on earth was the White House thinking last fall?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1233183362858176513

Tulsi Gabbard @TulsiGabbard

#CoronavirusUSA is a tragic legacy of John Bolton's reckless agenda. In 2018 he closed NSC's Global Health Security and forced out Rear Adm. Ziemer. Leaving the White House without a pandemic response team to act in a timely manner to protect our people.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/387191-trump-official-overseeing-pandemic-response-suddenly-leaves-admin

May 10, 2018

Trump official overseeing pandemic readiness exits
A top official who would lead the U.S.

7:13 PM · Feb 27, 2020

Anonymous said...

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-cdc-exclusiv/exclusive-u-s-axed-cdc-expert-job-in-china-months-before-virus-outbreak-idUSKBN21910S

March 22, 2020

U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak
By Marisa Taylor - Reuters

WASHINGTON - Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.

The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue....

Anonymous said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/25/health/predict-usaid-viruses.html

October 25, 2019

Scientists Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off Their Funding.
Predict, a government research program, sought to identify animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new pandemics.
By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

ken melvin said...

Stupid is as stupid does?

pgl said...

Anonymous - thanks for the additional news stories. You know there is an entire campaign among Trump's sycophants designed to minimize the importance of these horrific and deadly decisions. After all - all those clowns care about is getting the most incompetent President ever re-elected. MAGA - I guess.

Anonymous said...

Excellent but distressing post.

Anonymous said...

Referring to the actions of the Trump administration as distressing, I am thinking beyond the terrible epidemic we are experiencing and to the thinking and policies of the Trump administration from the beginning. This thinking and these policies are characterized by a fierce anti-humanism or anti-social bent. We will be a long long time in turning government to a stance of social responsibility when the Trump administration is gone.

I appreciate this post.

ken melvin said...

Well worth the while:

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-response.html

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

I am afraid what lay behind these stupid and deadlyo decisions was the single consistent themeof this administration: Obama Derangement Syndrome. If Obama started it or stronglu supported it, it must go or at least be cut back sharply.

Anonymous said...

Barkley Rosser

I am afraid what lay behind these stupid and deadly decisions was the single consistent theme of this administration: Obama Derangement Syndrome....

[ This really seems to be so, showing a sociopathic Republican need to obliterate an Obama legacy. ]