September 6, 2016
By: Kevin Griffis, HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
For most Americans, Labor Day was a respite from work, but for the folks at HHS who are fighting Zika, there has been little rest since the virus hit our shores. Even without Congressional funding, scientists and public health experts at HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and in our Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have been in a sprint to develop vaccines and diagnostic tests and combat the mosquito that transmits Zika. Twice since that initial request back in February HHS has repurposed money meant for other public health priorities so that we don’t slow the push for a vaccine or interrupt mosquito control efforts.
A White House map shows a month-by-month look at the prevelance of the mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus.
It’s been more than 200 days since the President asked Congress for $1.9 billion to fight Zika, and for the last seven weeks, the House and Senate have been on vacation. They return today, and we’re asking them to pass – in bipartisan fashion – the funding necessary to help CDC, NIH and BARDA protect the American people, especially pregnant women, from Zika and the profound birth defects it can cause.
To get a sense of the effort government experts are making every day, even without vital Congressional funding, just take a look at their last month of work.