What to do if COVID-20 comes?


Trump cut funds for research on bat coronavirus, person in charge: what to do if COVID-20 comes 

Last month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) abruptly terminated its research funding for the EcoHealth Alliance. The alliance has been working closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and their research focuses on identifying and warning of coronaviruses that endanger human health.


Chinese media reports in previous years have also shown that the chairman of the American Ecological Health Alliance has worked with Shi Zhengli’s team from Wuhan Institute of Virology and other domestic and foreign virologists to study bats and other coronaviruses in order to find them early. And to avoid the emergence of new infectious diseases in human society.


Prior to this, NIH had been providing financial support to the alliance every year, and the grant was extended in July 2019.


Peter Daszak, a well-known disease ecologist and head of the New York-based organization, said in an interview with USA TODAY: "I am really worried that this decision will have an adverse effect on us."

Peter Daszak said: "Even if we conquer COVID-19 (new coronavirus), what if COVID-20 comes? 

What about COVID-21? Who is responsible for searching for these viruses? For the past 20 years, our organization has been Investigate the sources of emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19. 

We work in the United States and more than 25 countries, and these agencies have been pre-approved by federal funding agencies to conduct scientific research that is critical to preventing epidemics."


NIH confirmed that the six-year US$3.4 million grant from the Eco-Health Alliance was terminated on April 24. However, NIH did not disclose the details of the decision.


Daszak said he received a letter from NIH, stating that the grant was terminated for convenience because it did not meet NIH's goals.



The Politico website first reported the cancellation of funds on April 27. A few days before the end of the Eco-Health Alliance’s funding, Mike Lauer, deputy director of external research at NIH, notified the organization that it needed to know all the locations in China that were connected to the funding.


The Ecological Health Alliance has been studying coronaviruses in bats in China for more than 10 years. During this period, it has established deep ties and close cooperation with Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

As Trump and Pompeo and other senior US officials have been linking unconfirmed theories about the origin of the new crown virus with China, and unscrupulous rumors fabricated by the media, the Wuhan virus was plagued by conspiracy theories and rumors during the epidemic.


Trump’s allegations have neither evidence nor support from infectious disease experts. The World Health Organization has repeatedly emphasized that the new coronavirus is naturally occurring. 

US intelligence agencies also publicly stated that they believe that the coronavirus is not caused by humans, but how it is transmitted to humans through animals, they have not yet reached any conclusions.


Daszak has been unable to clarify the reasons for the funding cuts. The Eco-Health Alliance has been funded by NIH since at least 2002. They are the main recipients of this $3.4 million in funding. "Secondary" winners include Wuhan Institute of Virology, Shanghai East China Normal University, Institute of Pathogen Biology, Peking Union Medical College, and Duke-National University of Singapore School of Medicine. 

"Secondary" winners refer to the Eco-Health Alliance acting as an intermediary agency between these institutions and the US government to fund joint research on bat coronaviruses. The US government does not directly allocate funds to these institutions.


Since the outbreak in Wuhan at the end of last year, the Eco-Health Alliance has not been accused of any wrongdoing, nor has it conducted any research in China.


According to the latest financial report published on its website, the alliance was established in 1971 by a British environmentalist. More than 90% of the organization's $16 million annual budget in 2018 came from government funding. The remaining funding comes from donations from science foundations, companies and individuals. 

The Eco-Health Alliance has carried out research projects in the United States and nearly 30 countries/regions around the world, with research ranging from forest health in Liberia to biological monitoring in West Asia. 

Charity Navigator, an organization that assesses the transparency, accountability and management of non-profit organizations, rated EcoHealth Alliance with a 4-star rating, which is its highest score.


The U.S. State Department is obliged to conduct background checks on any foreign institutions that receive research funding from the U.S. government, but they did not respond to requests to explain why the funding was terminated.


The title of the project funded by the Ecological Health Alliance in the United States is "Understanding the Risk of Coronavirus in Bats". The project began to receive funding during the Obama administration and was approved again in the Trump administration in July last year.


Daszak said: “This is the problem we are facing now. One of the goals of our research is to find out more about the genetic sequence of the bat coronavirus, and then provide this information to people who design vaccines and drugs. In the event of an outbreak We have just started this work."


Trump said at a press conference on April 17 that he was aware of the funding of the Eco-Health Alliance and planned to end funding soon.


On April 30, when asked if there was evidence that the virus might have originated in the laboratory, Trump responded in the affirmative: "Yes, I saw it." A few days later, at Fox on May 4 In the news studio, Trump stated that his government is waiting for a very powerful report on the outbreak of the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory. 

He said: "My opinion is that they made a mistake. They tried to cover up the mistake." He was referring to the Chinese government's attempt to hide rumors about the source of the new crown virus. China denies concealing these details.


Pompeo insisted on Wednesday that his different statements are "not contradictory", that is, "we are not sure about the origin of the virus," but "there is a lot of evidence that this virus comes from a laboratory."


Bob Menendez, the Democratic leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been calling for Pompeo to share US intelligence on the origin of the new crown virus for more than a month. 

Menendez said in another letter to Pompeo last Thursday: “The answers to these questions are critical because they may provide information for us to stop the further spread of the virus, limit the subsequent impact of the infection, and help us respond to future outbreaks. "


Linfa Wang, director of emerging infectious diseases at the Duke-National University of Singapore School of Medicine, said that scientific understanding of why and how the virus spreads from animals to humans is relatively poor, but it has been improving. 

He said that the consensus among mainstream researchers is that less than 1% of viruses that affect mammals are found. In other words, more than 99% of viruses are hidden in nature.


He said: "Fifty years ago, no one would pay attention to bats. Virus research is all related to mosquitoes and rodents. Over time, bats have evolved into a 'reservoir' of viruses that are deadly to humans, but these viruses. 

It does not necessarily cause harm to bats themselves, because as mammals, they have evolved a unique physiological structure that can withstand extreme stress in order to fly."


Wang added: "Can we predict where the next virus that jumps from animals to humans will come from? No."


Daszak emphasized: "Now more than ever, it is necessary to provide financial support for overseas coronavirus research, because the virus that poses the highest risk to public health may not originate in the United States, but may be in any country.


He said: “If we want to know anything about the next outbreak, we need to work in China.” Daszak described Southeast Asia as a “hotbed” of new viruses.


He said: "In people's imagination, there may be a situation where a person discards a petri dish in a laboratory in China, and somehow caused a large-scale outbreak. It's not like that. Know that every year Millions of people enter bat caves to prey on wild animals. This happens every day, and many people are exposed to the virus carried by bats every day. As long as one of them goes to the city, a cough may spread the virus. 

The purpose of our research It directly benefits the security and public health of the United States and the world. If we don’t, then when the next epidemic breaks out, people around the world will suffer."

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