To better identify and prevent future pandemics, WSU has entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to head up a new five-year, approximately $125 million global project.
The USAID Discovery & Exploration of Emerging Pathogens – Viral Zoonoses, or DEEP VZN project, will build scientific capacity in partner countries to safely detect and characterize unknown viruses which have the potential to spill over from wildlife and domestic animals to human populations.
“To make sure the world is better prepared for these infectious disease events, which are likely to happen more frequently as wild areas become increasingly fragmented, we need to be ready,” said Felix Lankester, lead principal investigator for USAID DEEP VZN and associate professor with WSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Health. “We will work to not only detect viruses but also build capacity in other countries, so the United States can collaborate with them in carrying out this important work.”
The project plans to partner with up to 12 targeted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to carry out large-scale animal surveillance programs within their own countries, safely, using their own laboratory facilities.
DEEP VZN builds on previous work by significantly scaling up USAID’s efforts to understand where and how viruses spill over from animals to humans. With more than 70 percent of viral outbreaks in people originating from animals, understanding future threats helps protect the U.S. as well as the global community.