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Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of Zika Outbreak Response

The Conversation: Using birth control to combat Zika virus could affect future generations
Simon Beard, research fellow in philosophy at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute

“…While delaying pregnancy may be relatively costless for individuals, if many people simultaneously decide to delay conception this will have significant demographic implications. … A short-term rise in the birth rate [following the outbreak] would put maternal services in these countries under severe strain and could make these problems considerably worse. … [T]o many philosophers the harm, if any, that we do when we create a child who will be worse off through disability is much less important than that which we do when we make an already existing child worse off. … So the moral problems with delaying pregnancy may be far greater than they seem. … [T]he view that delaying pregnancy is an easy or costless solution only tells one side of the story” (2/19).

Financial Times: GM mosquitoes hold the key in the battle against Zika
Michael Bonsall, professor of mathematical biology at the University of Oxford

“…In December, the House of Lords science and technology committee published a report on the science of genetically modified insects. It recommended that greater attention be paid to these new approaches as additional tools in the fight against infectious diseases such as Zika. The report placed particular emphasis on the ‘biosafety’ and ethical questions such approaches raise. But these should not be allowed to get in the way of a rapid and effective response to the Zika outbreak. In that battle, biotechnological innovation, including the development of genetically modified mosquitoes, has a central role to play” (2/19).

Los Angeles Times: Is the call for Zika virus abortions the new eugenics?
Charles C. Camosy, associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University

“…The rush to advocate for abortion as a response to the Zika virus is grounded in ignorance and expedience. If [abortion-rights] organizations were actually interested in helping people with Zika — rather than exploiting the outbreak for a broader agenda — they would have held their fire until we know more. They also would have done more to wrestle with the views of the disability-rights community. Instead of arrogantly insisting that developing nations must change their laws to suit someone else’s ideology, abortion proponents and the media would be better served by taking a critical look at the dark tendency here and elsewhere to turn to eugenics as a solution to a problem like Zika” (2/19).

The Guardian: If condoms are OK for Zika, why not AIDS, Pope Francis?
Barbara Ellen, columnist for the Observer

“…While the response to Zika is encouraging, doesn’t it also serve as a disturbing contrast to the Vatican’s continuing refusal to condone condoms as protection in AIDS-afflicted Africa? Why is ‘permission’ being granted to safeguard against one virus, Zika, but not against HIV and AIDS? … [N]ow that Zika has been addressed, surely the Catholic church can’t continue to justify this kind of oblique, unhelpful stance. Where AIDS is concerned, what’s stopping the Vatican … once and for all untying the issue of conception from protection, and acknowledging the entirely separate role of condoms in preventing the spread of disease …?” (2/20).

NPR: When Fear Becomes An Unintended Public Health Problem
Doug Levy, former chief communications officer of Columbia University Medical Center and adviser to public health and other officials on crisis communications

“With the Zika virus in the daily headlines, public health authorities should be looking carefully at how they communicate about this latest emerging infectious disease. People need to be alerted, not alarmed. … Errors in communications planning, preparation, and practice contributed to unfounded hysteria about Ebola. … Getting accurate information out to more people in advance of an outbreak could have made a difference. … Whether the public stays calm remains to be seen. Just as public health professionals keep watch for the next emerging disease, they also must anticipate the next source of fear and be ready to respond with more than just talking head experts…” (2/19).

Dallas Morning News: Zachary Thompson and Christopher Perkins: Let’s all act now to defuse the Zika threat in North Texas
Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, and Christopher Perkins, Dallas County medical director

“…Dallas County Health and Human Services was one of the first local health departments in the nation to test for Zika virus. Testing locally results in a faster turnaround and more effective response. This, in turn, will help us control a potential public health crisis. We will continue to communicate with our local, state, and federal partners to make sure we have the most current information and share it widely with Dallas County residents, the medical community, and our response partners. In cooperation with all of our municipalities and residents, we can manage the threat of Zika virus in Dallas County” (2/19).

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