Obama Urges Congress to Pass Zika Prevention Bill
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says a vaccine for the Zika virus could be developed in “fairly short order” if Congress acts quickly to pass a bill to prevent the spread of the disease.
Obama says researchers are beginning to develop and test a vaccine for the mosquito-borne virus. He says that if the effort is well funded he’s “fairly confident” an effective vaccine could be developed before the virus spreads to the continental U.S.
“We also have seen that in Puerto Rico, Zika has spread rapidly. And Dr. Frieden and members of the CDC who have traveled there have seen that the incidents of the cases of Zika–not just among the general population, but among pregnant women–has been spiking,” Obama said.
“Point number two is we have a crisis right now in Puerto Rico surrounding Zika, and we have to obtain the resources to make sure that we are engaging in mosquito abatement and providing the kind of basic health services to reduce the effects of Zika in Puerto Rico. And at a time when Puerto Rico is already going through a tough time and its public health infrastructure is being strained because of budget constraints and debt problems, it’s especially important that we’re responsive to the millions of American citizens who live there.
And keep in mind that there’s a lot of travel back and forth between Puerto Rico and the continental United States. So this is not something that, ultimately, may end up just being isolated there. That’s point number two,” he stressed
Obama made the remarks Friday after being briefed by top health officials at the White House.
The president is trying to pressure Congress to pass a Zika-prevention bill that has been stalled for weeks. He criticized lawmakers for “playing politics” with public health. He says lawmakers should not take their summer recess before passing a bill.
Caribbean Business contributed to this report.