NIH To Enlist Olympic Team In One Of Largest Zika Studies To Date
Researchers plan to recruit American Olympic athletes and staffers this summer and monitor them for a year after the games. In other news, Sanofi is partnering with the U.S. Army on an experimental Zika vaccine, while Brazilian scientists are teaming up with World Health Organization for the same purpose. Meanwhile, Congress is still stalled on funding, and The Dallas Morning News untangles the complicated advice surrounding getting pregnant during the outbreak.
NIH To Study Zika In Olympic Athletes
U.S. researchers are launching a study of hundreds of American Olympic athletes and staffers this summer to learn more about the effects of the Zika virus, which has plagued South America. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Tuesday it is funding a study to determine what puts people at risk for infection and how long individuals can carry the virus. (Ferris, 7/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Sanofi Teams Up With U.S. Army On Zika Vaccine
Sanofi SA has formed a partnership with the U.S. Army to expand research and development of an experimental Zika vaccine that has shown promise in early laboratory studies and is among a few candidates expected to be tested on humans in the coming months. At least 15 companies and entities, including Sanofi, are racing to develop vaccines against the Zika virus, which is behind an epidemic in the Americas that the World Health Organization says constitutes a public health emergency because the virus is linked to birth defects in multiple countries. (McKay and Bisserbe, 7/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
Brazilian Researchers Join With U.S. In Hunt For Zika Vaccine
A leading Brazilian biomedical research center is teaming up with the U.S. and the World Health Organization in the latest effort to develop a vaccine for the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The Butantan Institute [in Sao Paulo] has said it would partner with a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop the new vaccine for the virus, which spread across the Americas and raised concerns ahead of next month’s Rio Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro. (Johnson and Jelmayer, 7/5)
Zika Is Moving Fast. But Congress? Not So Much.
A political fight has stalled federal funding to help combat the virus. And the fight is about contraception. Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over whether the billion-dollar Zika fund could be used by private family planning clinics, like Planned Parenthood. (Tong, 7/5)
Poll: Voters Support Zika Bill, But Less Sure On ‘Poison Pills’
As congressional leaders remain deadlocked over a legislative package to provide additional funding to combat the Zika virus, a new Morning Consult poll shows more than three-quarters of registered voters support the measure. In the national survey taken from June 30 through the July Fourth weekend, 76 percent of respondents said they either somewhat support or strongly support the bill, which stalled last week in the Senate. But slightly more respondents said they’d be less likely to support the measure if it included most provisions Democrats have labeled as “poison pills.” (McIntire, 7/5)
The Dallas Morning News:
Debunked: Should You Avoid Getting Pregnant Because Of The Zika Outbreak?
Not according to the World Health Organization. This one’s complicated. So complicated that the WHO has had to clarify its position on Zika and pregnancy a few times. It's not unusual to update health advice during an outbreak, especially one where things are changing rapidly and a disease is spreading through a part of the world it's never been seen in before. (Yasmin, 7/5)
In other news, how the virus is affecting blood banks —
Kaiser Health News:
Unintended Consequence: Blood Banks Could Feel The Squeeze From Zika Advisories
Enhancing mosquito control. Encouraging safe sex. Advising people to minimize travel to infected areas. As public health officials hustle to implement strategies like these to undermine the threat of the Zika virus, one such tactic could exacerbate a different health concern: maintaining the nation’s supply of donated blood. The Food and Drug Administration is encouraging blood banks -- which already often struggle to meet demand -- to turn away potential donors who might be at risk. Specifically, people who have traveled to a country where the disease is being spread, or had sex with someone else who did, should not donate for four weeks. The protocol is being followed by clinics across the country. (Luthra, 7/6)
Blood Banks Face ‘Unprecedented’ Shortage Due In Part To Zika Restrictions
A network of blood donation centers in Northern and Central California has issued an urgent plea for donors to help alleviate what it says is an “extreme” and “unprecedented” nationwide blood supply shortage aggravated by the ongoing Zika epidemic in Latin America. BloodSource, which collects blood from Merced to Chico and distributes it to about 100 California hospitals, put out the “critical appeal” Tuesday morning, as the network’s reserves dropped to 5,000 pints below inventory levels needed to meet hospital demand, according to a news release. The biggest supplier of blood in the region, BloodSource aims to satisfy July demand of 25,400 pints. (Caiola, 7/5)