If you thought that Zika fear-mongering had conveniently faded away, you’d be wrong. Zika fear mongering, in fact, simply took a nap so that it could get rejuvenated just in time for the Summer Olympics, which are being held in Brazil.
A new article was written by Amir Attaran, DPhil, LLB, titled, “Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed,” is rehashing Zika fears in short-order.
Brazil’s Zika problem is inconveniently not ending. The outbreak that began in the country’s northeast has reached Rio de Janeiro, where it is flourishing. Clinical studies are also mounting that Zika infection is associated not just with pediatric microcephaly and brain damage, but also adult conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which are debilitating and sometimes fatal.ADVERTISEMENT
hen in January the International Olympic Committee declared Rio a “safe environment” for the Games, it was speculating, because Brazil’s Ministry of Health temporized until February to declare Zika a notifiable disease and begin counting cases.  Now with those data finally available, the situation seems not so safe: Rio de Janeiro’s suspected Zika cases are the highest of any state in in Brazil (26,000), and its Zika incidence rate is the fourth worst (157 per 100,000). Or in other words: according to the Brazil’s official data, Rio is not on the fringes of the outbreak, but inside its heart.
And then he brings up potential vaccines.
when (not if) the Games speed up Zika’s spread, the already-urgent job of inventing new technologies to stop it becomes harder. Basic Zika research is already on the fast track, and with time, the odds are excellent that scientists can develop, test and prove an effective Zika vaccine, antiviral drug, insecticide, or genetically-engineered mosquito. But by spreading the virus faster and farther, the Games steal away the very thing – time – that scientists and public health professionals need to build such defenses.
You can read Attaran’s full expression of horrific fears here.
Attaran’s article is just the start of what should be an ongoing Summer advertisement for Zika vaccine. If even one Olympic fan or competitor is diagnosed with Zika, the media will exploit it.
Pharmaceutical companies have to be salivating at the thought of massive Zika fears running all summer, through a primetime world event. The stage couldn’t be set any better for pushing vaccines.