Why It’s Vital to Cut Novel Viruses Off at the Source – and Fund the Hunt

July 1, 2020
DESCRIPTION: For more than 20 years, the biologist Peter Daszak has been on a quest to cut the negative pathological ties between humans and wildlife, with a particular focus on classes of viruses, including coronaviruses, that can move from animals to people.

In 2018, the World Health Organization published a research agenda in which a top priority for research was "Disease X" - knowledge that "a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease."

In February, Dr. Daszak wrote a New York Times op-ed titled "We Knew Disease X Was Coming; It's Here Now."

Daszak has been in the headlines since April, when the Trump administration abruptly cut funding for research his organization, EcoHealth Alliance, has been doing on coronaviruses in bats, in collaboration with a lab in Wuhan, China.

He is joined in this Sustain What conversation by Angela Rasmussen, a Columbia University virologist focused on how emerging novel pathogens do their damage; Eliza Barclay, the editor for science, health and climate at; and Jon Cohen, a longtime virus-focused journalist at Science Magazine.

Your host is veteran environmental and disaster journalist and author Andy Revkin (@revkin), who directs the Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

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