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.
One obvious point is that Senator Warren should be President Warren. It turns out that she had a plan for that. Again. I don’t understand how the Democratic primary voters decided.
Also I think this could and should be an example of how Government programs are useful and Republicans are always wrong. It isn’t news. For example, for a cost completely insignificant for the US Federal Government, and Ebola vaccine could have been developed and available before the West African Ebola epidemic.
Also the program to build the capacity to quickly make millions of N95 masks shouldn’t have been cancelled.
The NSC pandemic group should not have been disolved (what were their salaries compared to the Federal Budget ?).
Also the internet has uses aside from command and control after a nuclear attack.
Again and again public R&D and investment pay off.
There is nothing surprising about this.
Just imagine a private firm investing in research on zoonotic viruses in case there was an epidemic. From the point of view of the manager this is an absurdly risky investment. From the point of view of society is it insurance. This is an extremely common problem and major market failure.
“…More needs to be asked as what on earth was the White House thinking last fall?”
[Assumes facts not in evidence.]