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Washington State Partners With U.S. Federal Government to Lead $125 Million Project to Detect New Viruses


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What could go wrong with this folks?

After the NIH-funded global catastrophe in Wuhan, our federal government plans to pump more money into finding new viruses.

This latest project is a collaboration between Washington State University and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The five-year agreement comes with a $125 million price tag.

$125 million to research, identify, and prevent future pandemics.

Where have we heard that excuse before?

The USAID is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.

Where does the USAID get its funding?

From USAID:

As a U.S. Government agency, USAID receives its funding from Congress. We work with both Congress and the Executive Office of the President to determine budget priorities.

The majority of our funds are awarded competitively through contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements. All contracts that are available for bidding are at SAM.gov. Information about grants and cooperative agreements is at Grants.gov.

You can learn more about USAID’s current and past program funding in a number of places:

  • The Foreign Assistance Dashboard offers a visual presentation of, and access to, key State Department and USAID foreign assistance data.
  • USASpending.gov is a searchable website that provides information about USAID’s most recent awards and implementing partners.
  • The annual U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (the “Greenbook”) contains summarized data about U.S. foreign assistance since 1945.

How Funding Decisions Are Made and Where to Find Opportunities

USAID manages the majority of its programs in-country. This means that most opportunities for funding are made available locally at USAID Missions. These opportunities are also posted on SAM.gov and Grants.gov, but it is important to note that they are guided by a Mission’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS).

Programs that are not managed locally are often driven by Agency-wide policies. Funding opportunities that are related to Agency-wide policies are posted on SAM.gov and Grants.gov.

In 2014, USAID established the U.S. Global Development Lab, building on the belief that science, technology, innovation, and partnership can happen more quickly, less expensively, and more sustainably. There are a variety of exciting funding opportunities available within the Lab, such as the Grand Challenges for Development and the Development Innovation Ventures. If you’re interested in learning more about the Lab, click here.

In other words, USAID is taxpayer funded.

And call me skeptical, but funding through contracts and grants makes me suspicious.

Does the American public get a voice for what contracts and grants are given to USAID?

The world paid a heavy price for the U.S. taxpayer funded Wuhan Lab.

Do American citizens want a repeat of history on their dime?

WSU Insider shared further details:

To better identify and prevent future pandemics, WSU has entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to head up a new five-year, approximately $125 million global project.

The USAID Discovery & Exploration of Emerging Pathogens – Viral Zoonoses, or DEEP VZN project, will build scientific capacity in partner countries to safely detect and characterize unknown viruses which have the potential to spill over from wildlife and domestic animals to human populations.

“To make sure the world is better prepared for these infectious disease events, which are likely to happen more frequently as wild areas become increasingly fragmented, we need to be ready,” said Felix Lankester, lead principal investigator for USAID DEEP VZN and associate professor with WSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Health. “We will work to not only detect viruses but also build capacity in other countries, so the United States can collaborate with them in carrying out this important work.”

The project plans to partner with up to 12 targeted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to carry out large-scale animal surveillance programs within their own countries, safely, using their own laboratory facilities.

DEEP VZN builds on previous work by significantly scaling up USAID’s efforts to understand where and how viruses spill over from animals to humans. With more than 70 percent of viral outbreaks in people originating from animals, understanding future threats helps protect the U.S. as well as the global community.

The project will focus on finding previously unknown pathogens from three viral families that have a large potential for viral spillover from animals to humans: coronaviruses, the family that includes SARS-CoV-2 the virus that causes COVID-19; filoviruses, such as the Ebola virus; and paramyxoviruses which includes the viruses that cause measles and Nipah.

The goals are ambitious: to collect over 800,000 samples in the five years of the project, most of which will come from wildlife; then to detect whether viruses from the target families are present in the samples. When those are found, the researchers will determine the zoonotic potential of the viruses, or the ability to transfer from animals to humans.

This process is expected to yield 8,000 to 12,000 novel viruses, which researchers will then screen and sequence the genomes of the ones that pose the most risk to animal and human health.

To meet these goals, WSU will draw on the strengths of a consortium of partners including the virology expertise of University of Washington and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as well as data management and in-country expertise of public health nonprofits PATH and FHI 360. WSU along with their partners have established presence in countries in the target regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

800,000 samples from 8,000 to 12,000 novel viruses?

And determine their ability to transfer from animals to humans?

No thanks.

I’m tired of these scientists playing God and wrecking humanity.



 

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