The Wuhan lab row threatens US and China to cooperate in science
In 2004, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed an agreement with China’s National Influenza Center to help China improve its analysis of seasonal flu strains.
Over the next 10 years the fight against the disease was transformed. The U.S. trained nearly 2,500 Chinese scientists and helped open dozens of laboratories in the country, a key boost for the partnership. efficiency from 10 percent to 50 percent of the seasonal flu vaccine.
Now, scientists are concerned that this type of cooperation is under threat, and that both suspicions between the two governments are not in jeopardy, which has exacerbated them. last row Covid-19 to find out if it could have come from an escape from Wuhan’s lab.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told the Financial Times: “We have been collaborating with Chinese scientists for decades and decades in a very collaborative way. It would be a shame for the Chinese, the US and the whole world to stop that.”
China and the U.S. have been collaborating on research for decades, making the Nature Index the most academically fruitful scientific relationship in the world.
The number of joint studies conducted in the 2000s exploded as China opened up and invested more in the capabilities of its scientific research.
Between 2005 and 2017, the number of articles written by U.S. and Chinese researchers in high-quality journals increased sixfold, according to research He directs Cong Cao at the University of Nottingham School of Business in China. The same study found that the number of scientists who had previously been in China in the US nearly doubled from 2010 to 2017.
Some co-produced works have changed the world.
From 1993 to 1995, the CDC led a research project in China that found lower levels of birth defects in pregnant newborns because their mother had been taking folic acid for 28 years before and after conception. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration then began adding folic acid to food manufacturers such as basic products such as bread, flour, and rice, and as a result the birth defects rate of newborn babies in the U.S. fallen about 1,300 a year.
Deborah Seligsohn, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and a former state department official, said: “This research would not be possible in the United States because everyone goes to a private doctor and the data is much more disorganized.”
It has also been successful in scientific fields unrelated to health.
Since 2009, countries have worked together to steal China’s nuclear reactors from the use of weapons-enriched uranium and convert them into much lower fuels that cannot be used in ballistic missiles.
Other elements of the investigation have been more controversial, however, with U.S. law enforcement agencies often accusing the Chinese of using collaborative projects to steal sensitive technology.
Early last year, the US complained Charles Lieber, Chairman of the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, along with coverage that also paid $ 50,000 to Wuhan University of Technology.
The arrest sparked protests from Lieber’s classmates, who argued that his accusation was unfair and encouraged scientific cooperation between the U.S. and other countries. But it was also part of a broader push by the Trump administration, known as the “China Initiative,” aimed at eliminating U.S. researchers who were helping to pass scientific secrets to China.
Despite the Chinese initiative, cooperation has deepened in recent years, even after the pandemics hit.
Caroline Wagner, an associate professor of public affairs at Ohio State University, found in a report that the number of articles specifically examining U.S. and Chinese coronaviruses increased in the first three months of 2020. The number of collaborative work fell later that year Beijing ordered it All research related to Covid should be reviewed by the government before publication.
They threaten that the question about what was happening in the Wuhan lab before the explosion of Covid-19 will last even longer.
Many experts have criticized the US funding and assistance in conducting a dangerous study on the potential impact of bat coronaviruses on humans in the Wuhan laboratory – even though that research was not necessarily the one that caused the pandemic. And they were particularly concerned when it was revealed that some of that work had been done at a biosafety level, roughly the equivalent of a U.S. dentist’s office.
Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard, said: “This kind of work that is being done in BSL-2 cannot happen. Your work should be funded and your roles should be affected. Very dangerous safety practices should be stopped.”
Some are concerned, however, that relatively safe areas of scientific cooperation are also at risk.
Denis Simon, executive director of the Center for Innovation Policy at Duke University, said: “University administrators are blocking all kinds of projects because they are afraid of titles that suggest their scientists are doing anything illegal.”
Others have warned that by paying so much attention to the controversial origins of the coronavirus pandemic, they could jeopardize the kind of work the U.S. can do to help prevent the next one.
Seligsohn of Villanova University said: “Influenza research shows that virus surveillance is of paramount importance. Joint research on bat coronaviruses in the US and China will be more important after this pandemic, not less.”
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