Regarding NIH Termination of Coronavirus Research Funding

EcoHealth Alliance conducts cutting edge scientific research to better protect our planet from the threat of new and emerging diseases. To do this, we work around the world in countries where the threat is highest and the need greatest. The divisions that we humans see, viruses do not. Viruses have no citizenship, no political affiliation; they are indiscriminate in the harm they cause. Because of this, when one of us is threatened by a deadly virus, so too are all of us.

EcoHealth Alliance scientists come together from a diverse set of backgrounds and disciplines to better understand the viruses that threaten us and the human behaviors that allow their spillover. As a nonprofit organization, our work is supported by various sources, including U.S. federal funding agencies. In each of nearly 30 countries around the world where we work, we collaborate with local institutions, all of which are pre-approved by our federal funders.

It’s been EcoHealth Alliance’s position for the past 15 years that coronaviruses present a clear and immediate threat to our safety. That seems clearer now than ever before. The research that the National Institutes of Health terminated aimed to analyze the risk of coronavirus emergence and help in designing vaccines and drugs to protect us from COVID-19 and other coronavirus threats. In fact, genetic sequences of two bat coronaviruses that we discovered with this grant have been used as lab tools to test the breakthrough antiviral drug Remdesivir. For that reason, it is clear that this research is vital for protecting the lives of Americans, and people around the world who are battling COVID-19. Our research was reviewed by independent scientists, considered extremely high priority by NIHNIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research, and funded in 2019. The goals of our work address all four strategic research priorities of the NIH/NIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research, released just this week. More importantly, international collaboration with countries where viruses emerge is absolutely vital to our own public health and national security here in the USA.

We stand by our work, and by our mission. While our fieldwork is temporarily on pause due to the pandemic, we continue our fight against this and other emerging diseases, and look forward to continuing our international collaborations as soon as possible.