"The Tiny Trump Budget Cut That Could Blind America to the Next Zika"

"The Obamacare repeal would halve a little-known fund that’s vital for monitoring unexpected infectious threats."

"The science community is still reeling from the huge cuts proposed by President Trump’s budget blueprint. If it passes would slash $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $2.5 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), $900 million from the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, and $250 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If Congress approves the budget, it would “set off a lost generation of American science,” as my colleague Adrienne LaFrance reported.

But with the budget threatening to carve large gaping gashes into the flank of American science, it’s easy to lose sight of the damage that even small nicks can inflict.

Consider the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) program. It’s a little-known, unglamorous, and modest fund. But it’s also vital for America’s ability to respond to infectious diseases, and especially to unforeseen emergencies like Ebola, Zika, or whatever else is coming next. If the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act goes ahead, the ELC’s budget will be cut in half. That’s a loss of $40 million—just 0.7 percent of the cut that’s planned for the NIH. But it alone would leave the U.S sluggish and myopic when it comes to infectious diseases."

Ed Yong reports for the Atlantic March 18, 2017.

Source: Atlantic, 03/20/2017