Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Boffins are on the hunt for more pesky viruses. What could go wrong.
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe in January 2020, virus hunters pushed for funding to uncover more “yet-to-be-recognized deadly viruses.” They believed that cataloging viruses in wildlife could help prevent future pandemics.
“In China alone, we sampled >10,000 bats and ~2,000 other mammals, using PREDICT protocols to discover 52 novel SARS related-CoV’s, including the closest relative of the Wuhan nCoV [SARS-CoV-2],” boasts a University of California, Davis letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein requesting federal support for programs like PREDICT, the government’s flagship virus-hunting program.
However, the letter didn’t mention the risks of collecting and studying SARS-related viruses, which have the potential to be lethal or highly transmissible. The U.S. Energy Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the World Health Organization now recognize that a research accident with SARS-CoV-2 may have sparked one of the biggest pandemics in history.