Political Laxity May Lead To Zika Virus Outbreak

First Posted: Mar 10, 2017 03:00 AM EST

Scientists have been warning time and again regarding the severity of the impact of valuable time lost while the government decides whether or not to sanction research funding for vaccine research, development, testing and finally the mass distribution. In 2016, when Barack Obama proposed the release of $1.9 billion funding for the development of Zika vaccine, it took the congress months to actually release it. In the meantime, 1,500 new born babies either succumbed to Zika or survived but with lifelong crippling effects. It seems history is to repeat itself.

The American Health Care Act proposed by the Trump administration passed the house and is likely to soon come into effect. The act proposed a major cost cutting of the funds released for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is meant for the development of Zika vaccine. If this does happen, it is expected that America is going to face a major Zika virus outbreak in the future, NBC News reported.

This is not the first time that political interference will cost the lives of innocent people. In 1964, after the outbreak of rubella virus, in the absence of effective vaccines, around 20,000 babies were born with crippling birth defects. In the absence of political support, scientists started working on the development of rubella vaccine by following not so official and ethical methods. The good thing is that the vaccine developed was found to be highly effective in controlling the spread of rubella, CBC Radio reported.

While an epidemic obviously attracts the attention of political leaders, developing preventive measures that can control these outbreaks are often deemed not so urgent. However, taking measures once the disease is rampant makes it extremely difficult for the scientists to develop medicines and vaccines on urgent basis.

The same thing happened with Zika last year. As of now, Zika virus outbreak may not be immediate due to the onset of summer. However, thinking that it would not take the form of an epidemic next year would be foolish. This is the reason why scientists are eager to test the newly developed Zika vaccines, according to NPR.

Whether or not the Trump administration considers this as top priority and sanctions the required funding, it will be interesting to find out. While the health officials are emphasizing that the only way to tackle Zika virus outbreaks in the future is by mass immunization, the government is yet to heed to it.

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