Federal authorities continue funding investigations into ways to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 among people and animals and to protect the U.S. food supply.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced June 21 the agency would award $24 million in research grants for studies into how the virus spreads, which animals are susceptible, and how to identify and contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens.
The money will come through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and from the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program of the National Science Foundation. The grants are available to researchers within state and federal agencies, academia, private organizations, and corporations as well as to individual researchers, according to the announcement.
APHIS information states that the grants will support studies to close gaps in surveillance and investigations into SARS-CoV-2 infections among farmed animals, captive wildlife, free-ranging wildlife, and companion animals; expand understanding of which species are susceptible to the virus and how it can spread; develop surveillance tools and strategies for quickly detecting and characterizing emerging or reemerging pathogens; support a warning system for SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks; identify ways to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 where humans and animals interact; and prevent harm to the food supply.
The grants are among the APHIS projects under the American Rescue Plan Act, which was enacted in March 2021 and provided the USDA $300 million for monitoring and surveillance of animals for SARS-CoV-2 infections. The USDA is using that money to not only respond to the pandemic but also to build overall capacity to detect zoonoses and build a warning system ahead of the next zoonotic disease outbreak or pandemic, USDA information states.