Press "Enter" to skip to content

Feinstein to USAID: Reinstate Pandemic Prevention Program

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to reinstate the PREDICT zoonotic disease surveillance and forecasting program. PREDICT is a program that proactively searches for pathogens with the potential to cause pandemics in order to prevent their spread from animals to humans. USAID canceled the program last year.

            “Since 2009, PREDICT has led to the discovery of nearly 1,000 new viruses, including coronaviruses similar to what has caused the outbreak in Wuhan, China.  For example, in 2018, a new Ebola strain found in healthy bats was discovered in Sierra Leone and was the first Ebola strain to be discovered before an outbreak in humans occurred,” Senator Feinstein wrote.

            Feinstein continued: “The current deadly viral outbreak and its quick appearance in the United States make clear that PREDICT’s contributions to zoonotic disease surveillance and forecasting must continue.  We simply cannot afford to go backwards and jeopardize the success we’ve seen over the last ten years.”

            Full text the letter follows:

February 4, 2020

Mr. Mark Green
Administrator
United States Agency for International Development
2231 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202

Dear Administrator Green:

            In light of the deeply concerning coronavirus outbreak in China, which has now led to several cases in California, I write to ask that you reverse your decision last year to shut down the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) PREDICT zoonotic disease surveillance and forecasting program.

            Since 2009, PREDICT has led to the discovery of nearly 1,000 new viruses, including coronaviruses similar to what has caused the outbreak in Wuhan, China.  For example, in 2018, a new Ebola strain found in healthy bats was discovered in Sierra Leone and was the first Ebola strain to be discovered before an outbreak in humans occurred.  Its discovery will help Sierra Leone and neighboring countries update their diagnostics to ensure they can detect all known Ebola viruses and reduce the risk of exposure.

            PREDICT has even helped inform preparedness and response efforts being used to combat the current coronavirus outbreak.  Specifically, research supported by PREDICT led to the discovery of several SARS-like coronaviruses related to the new virus in Wuhan, including viruses in bats that could be transmitted directly to people.  This research has helped inform the scientific community about the possibility of animal-to-human interaction being a risk factor in the current outbreak.  Even more, PREDICT trained and equipped public health professionals in several countries that are now supporting the diagnosis of the virus and other efforts to control outbreak.

            The current deadly viral outbreak and its quick appearance in the United States make clear that PREDICT’s contributions to zoonotic disease surveillance and forecasting must continue.  We simply cannot afford to go backwards and jeopardize the success we’ve seen over the last ten years.  I urge you to reinstate the PREDICT program, and I look forward to working with you on this critical issue. 

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

###

Go to Source
Author: