Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Zika Outbreak Response

Washington Post: Swatting the Zika carriers
Editorial Board

“…[T]he age of genetic engineering has brought new possibilities: The tiny building blocks of life can be manipulated to impede the disease. So far, laboratory trials have shown that genetic material can be altered to suppress mosquito populations or make them less likely to ferry disease. More recent science has suggested that a mosquito gene ‘drive’ could be created that would pass down to generations of mosquitoes the characteristic of resisting a disease such as malaria. This technique has enormous implications for entire ecosystems, and research ought to be carried out with the utmost care. It may not be the answer to this epidemic, but it is important to explore. Would the world be worse off if Aedes aegypti were genetically altered, now and forever? A lot of human babies might have a better chance to be born healthy” (3/18).

Medium: The time to take action against Zika is now
Hillary Clinton, 2016 presidential candidate and former U.S. secretary of state

“…There is a lot we need to do [to stop Zika], and fast. First and foremost, Congress should meet President Obama’s request for $1.8 billion in emergency appropriations to fight Zika. … Congress needs to provide the funds to fight Zika now. Here’s where that money should go: developing a rapid diagnostic test for Zika; developing a vaccine; and developing treatment. We need to increase our research into the connection between Zika and microcephaly. And we need to step up mosquito control and abatement, and make sure the public knows how to protect themselves and their kids. … There are smart, achievable things we could be doing right now, and there’s no time to waste. So we need Congress to act. We need citizens to demand action…” (3/18).

The Hill: Zika coming our way: Points for Catholics to consider
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice

“…Only affirmative support of contraception on behalf of the Vatican can turn the tide on these institutional blockages to contraception access and help ensure women can get contraception during the Zika crisis and beyond. That means overturning the Humanae Vitae encyclical’s ban on contraception and a positive assertion by the pope of contraceptive use as part of a healthy relationship. … [I]nstead of cheerleading [Pope] Francis’ inadequate response to the Zika crisis, we should take a step back and consider what women really need. They don’t need favors; they need justice from Pope Francis. They do not need a half-hearted, on-the-fly endorsement of contraception in limited situations. They need sustained access to appropriate contraception and abortion services…” (3/18).

USA TODAY: Public health ‘monster spray’ won’t stop Zika: Column
Puneet Opal, neurologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Physician-Scientist Training Program, and Ameet R. Kini, director of hematopathology and flow cytometry at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

“…How should we deal with [misperceptions] of risk? Some feel it is acceptable to respond to risks with seemingly irrational actions — if those actions calm public fears. After all, while our fears may be irrational, they are still real. … [S]uch attempts to contain fear are misguided and even dangerous. First, health care is mostly a zero-sum game, with limited resources. Excessive attention to a small risk will take away resources from larger risks. Doctors and nurses would waste valuable time preparing and training for improbable scenarios, instead of preventing and treating diseases that are real threats. Second, draconian measures such as quarantining asymptomatic, low-risk health care workers could result in the loss of crucial expertise — a perilous measure. Finally, far from calming fears, a disproportionate public response could backfire, exaggerating the public’s sense of danger” (3/20).

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