The Trump administration stopped funding a pandemic warning program just a few months before the novel coronavirus outbreak

Trump coronavirus

  • The Trump administration ended funding for an early-warning program that helped detect diseases that had the potential to explode into pandemics, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • Last year, the PREDICT project, a program of U.S. Agency for International Development, lost its $200 million in funding just months before the novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China.
  • PREDICT worked with labs around the world, including the facility in Wuhan, China, that first identified the novel coronavirus.
  • One of their missions was to to discover and analyze zootonic diseases, which jump from humans to animals. The novel coronavirus is one such disease.
  • USAID has given the program an emergency infusion of $2.26 million, the L.A. Times reported, but one person involved in the project says that's not enough.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Just months before the novel coronavirus outbreak began, the Trump administration cut funding to a program that helped train scientists to detect and monitor over 1,200 viruses that had the potential to explode into pandemics, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

The program, known as PREDICT, partnered with 60 foreign laboratories, including the lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan that first identified the novel coronavirus, according to the L.A. Times. But funding for the $200 million program ran out in September 2019, and dozens of scientists and analysists were laid off.Advertisement

The project's fate worried many public health experts, according to an October 2019 report in the New York Times.

The project was founded in 2009 by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of its Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program. That program included four projects, including PREDICT.

USAID did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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Since the novel coronavirus outbreak, PREDICT has since recieved $2.26 million in emergency funding from USAID, the L.A. Times reported. But at least one key player thinks that isn't enough.

"Look at the name: Our efforts were to predict this before it happens," Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a global evironmental health non-profit that plays a prominent role in the PREDICT project, told the Times. "That's the part of the program that was exciting - and that's the part I'm worried about." "It's absolutely critical that we don't drop the idea of a large-scale, proactive, predictive program that tries to catch pandemics before they happen," he said. "Cutting a program that could in any way reduce the risk of things like COVID-19 happening again is, by any measure, shortsighted."Advertisement

According to EcoHealth Alliance's website, a key part of the project's work involved taking and analyzing samples from wildlife around the globe in an attempt to detect zoonotic diseases, which can transfer from animals to humans.

The novel coronavirus, officially classified as SARS-CoV-2, is one such disease.

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