HOW ONE BAD APPLE RUINS THE BUNCH (The Actual Trickle-Down Effect of Bad Governance)

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By Shafaat Khan, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO :

Barack Obama and JOE BIDEN had a program, called PREDICT, that tracked emerging diseases in places like China. Trump cut it. The expiration of Predict just weeks before the advent of the pandemic prompted wide criticism among scientists, who noted that the coronavirus is exactly the sort of catastrophic animal virus the program was designed to head off.

A federal agency is resurrecting a version of Predict, a scientific network that for a decade watched for new pathogens dangerous to humans. Joe Biden has also vowed to fund the effort.

Predict, which was started in 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program, was inspired by the 2005 H5N1 bird flu scare. Predict was run by the United States Agency for International Development, which is an independent foreign-aid agency overseen by the State Department.

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Joseph R. Biden Jr. has promised that, if elected, he will restore the program, called Predict, which searched for dangerous new animal viruses in bat caves, camel pens, wet markets, and wildlife-smuggling routes around the globe.

Accomplishments: During its 10-year existence, Predict spent $207 million to train about 5,000 scientists in 30 African and Asian countries, and to build or strengthen 60 laboratories to seek out animal viruses that could endanger humans. Scientists working for Predict collected over 140,000 biological samples and found over 1,000 new viruses, including a new strain of Ebola. Even after Predict ended, gene-sequencing teams that it trained in Thailand and Nepal were the first to detect Covid-19 in their countries, even before they got test kits from the World Health Organization. Both countries rapidly contained the spread of the virus and have kept deaths from it very low, despite having cases early.

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What ELSE needs to be done: The American response to pandemics is strangely fragmented. The C.D.C. investigates outbreaks, while the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases pursues vaccines. Much research into tropical diseases and bio-weapons is done by the military, legacies of the Spanish-American War, and the Cold War, while the State Department coordinates global campaigns against AIDS. Some experts have called for a more centralized arrangement, a sort of Pentagon for diseases.

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Compiled and Curated By Maham Abbasi

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