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Risch on Termination of Virus Hunting Program

BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement on the termination of U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Discovery and Exploration of Emerging Pathogen-Viral Zoonoses (DEEP VZN) program:

“USAID should not be engaged in virus hunting overseas. Not only is this outside the agency’s purview, but USAID does not have the adequate oversight and control mechanisms in place to ensure any viruses that are found are protected and won’t cause catastrophic outbreaks. The risks far outweigh the benefits of any such research, and because of this, I held all funding for the program. I am glad the administration finally listened to my grave concerns and ended DEEP VZN.”

In May 2023, Risch sent a letter to USAID Administrator Power expressing concern about the DEEP VZN program. Text of the letter can be found here.