US shuts controversial $125 mn wildlife virus hunting programme over safety

    [Representational Image]



     [Representational Image]

    New Delhi, Sep 9: The US government has quietly dropped its $125 million five-year flagship project for hunting viruses among wildlife to prevent human pandemics, over safety concerns, according to a report.

    Known as DEEP VZN (pronounced “deep vision”), short for Discovery and Exploration of Emerging Pathogens — Viral Zoonoses, the project was launched in October 2021 by USAID, an arm of the US State Department.

    The agency promoted it as “a critical next step to understand and address the risks posed by zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans”.

    DEEP VZN succeeded an earlier USAID programme called PREDICT and aimed to find previously unknown pathogens from three viral families: coronaviruses; filoviruses, such as Ebola; and paramyxoviruses, including Nipah virus. The aim was to help the world “be better prepared to detect, prevent and respond to future biological threats”.

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