USAID virus monitoring program gets canceled
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has canceled DEEP VZN (Discovery & Exploration of Emerging Pathogens – Viral Zoonoses) before it could begin work.
DEEP VZN had been allocated about 10% of its promised funding and had not yet received a green light to begin field work.
The $125 million program was meant to prepare workforces in 12 pilot countries over five years to identify viruses in animals that might harm humans.
Personnel would have been trained to safely collect and analyze viruses, and to develop strategies to avoid future pandemics.
Critics of the program expressed relief, citing what they considered to be a risky approach to research and questioning why a development agency had oversight.
Others believe the decision was politically motivated or stemmed from fears that researchers studying bat viruses may have triggered the most recent pandemic.
How or if the decision will affect pandemic preparedness remains to be seen.