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Trump ended program to detect potential pandemic-causing viruses before they spread: report

The Trump administration cut a $200 million program that trains scientists in China and other foreign countries to detect viruses that could become pandemics two months before the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan, China, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The program was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2009 and reportedly supported staff in the Chinese lab that eventually identified the new coronavirus. The initiative, dubbed Predict, was launched in response to the 2005 ”bird flu” outbreak.

According to the Times, USAID on Wednesday gave a $2.26 million grant to help labs around the world control the virus. 

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“Look at the name: Our efforts were to predict this before it happens. That’s the part of the program that was exciting — and that’s the part I’m worried about,” Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a key player in the program, told the Times.

Dennis Carroll, a scientist who led USAID’s emerging threats division and retired around the time Predict was cut, told The New York Times in January that the program “essentially collapsed into hibernation.”

Lawmakers have pointed out that the program was cut right at the cusp of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Addressing and preventing the spread of coronavirus and potential pandemic disease outbreaks is a serious matter that requires adequate resources for and cooperation between experts throughout the federal government,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget Katie Porter in heated exchange with Mnuchin: 'You're play-acting to be a lawyer' MORE (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to USAID in January.