“The Nov. 15 editorial “To catch a killer” was spot on as far as the world’s need to learn from the current pandemic to prevent the next one. It identified several concrete steps but omitted one. A travesty occurred in April when President Trump, based on a comment from a far-right media outlet, knee-jerked and ordered that the National Institutes of Health revoke its funding for a major bat disease study in China that has been looking for the next likely source of an outbreak. The NIH withdrew a highly rated five-year, $3 million grant for a bat disease study from the expert U.S. zoonotic disease team, the EcoHealth Alliance, because a minor part of their grant included collaborating with a Chinese research institute.
Mr. Trump’s desire to punish China led to this ill-informed example of cutting off our nose to spite our face. We will have less predictive knowledge about the next pandemic, and even our knowledge of the present coronavirus outbreak has suffered because of this grant being tampered with. The Biden administration should add fully restoring a robust cooperative zoonotic disease research program with China to its agenda. Both countries will benefit.”