U.S. gov’t to ask Congress for $1.8 billion to fight Zika

The United States Federal Government will submit a formal request to ask Congress “for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to enhance our ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus, both domestically and internationally,” a White House press release said. The Pan American Health Organization reports 26 countries and territories in the Americas – including Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories in warmer areas with populations of the virus-carrying Aedes aegpyti mosquito – with local Zika transmission. Furthermore, though active transmission of the virus by mosquitoes has not yet been seen in the continental U.S., some Americans have come back from affected countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands infected with Zika. Part of the funding would be applied to the development of a vaccine. There is no treatment for the Zika virus infection other than alleviating the symptoms; e.g., taking acetaminophen or paracetamol to manage fever and pain.

The requested money would be used to “build on our ongoing preparedness efforts and will support essential strategies to combat this virus,” such as:

·         Expanding mosquito control programs.

·         Accelerating vaccine research and diagnostic development.

·         Enabling the testing and procurement of vaccines and diagnostics.

·         Educating healthcare providers, pregnant women and their partners.

·         Improving epidemiology and expanding laboratory and diagnostic testing capacity.

·         Improving health services and supports for low-income pregnant women, and increasing the ability of Zika-affected countries to fight mosquitoes and control transmission.   

Here is how the money would be allocated:




Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

$1.48 billion


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

$828 million

·         Support preparedness and response capacity in States and territories with mosquito populations known to transmit Zika virus, with emphasis on areas with active Zika transmission.

·         Enhance mosquito control programs through improved lab, epidemiology and surveillance capacity in at-risk areas to decrease opportunities transmission.

·         Establish rapid response teams to limit potential clusters of Zika virus in the U.S.

·         Improve lab capacity and infrastructure to test for Zika virus and other infectious diseases.

·         Implement surveillance efforts to track Zika in communities and in mosquitoes.

·         Deploy targeted prevention and education strategies with key populations.

·         Expand the CDC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, improve Guillain-Barré syndrome tracking, and ensure the ability of birth defect registries across the country to detect risks Zika-related risks.

·         Increase research into the link between Zika and microcephaly and assess changes in incidence rates over time.

·         Enhance international capacity for virus surveillance, expand the Field Epidemiology Training program, laboratory testing, healthcare provider training, and vector surveillance and control in countries at highest risk of outbreaks.

·         Improve diagnostics for Zika, including advanced methods to refine tests, and support advanced developments for vector control.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

$250 million

·         A temporary 1-year increase in Puerto Rico’s capped Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to support health services for pregnant women at risk of infection or diagnosed with Zika virus and for children with microcephaly, as well as other healthcare costs. 


Vaccine Research and Diagnostic Development & Procurement

$200 million

·         Research, rapid advanced development and commercialization of new vaccines and diagnostic tests for the Zika virus.

·         Funding for the National Institutes of Health to build on existing resources and work to develop a vaccine for Zika virus. 

·         Improve scientific understanding of the disease to inform the development of additional tools to fight it.

·         Resources for the FDA to support Zika virus medical product development.


Other HHS response activities

$210 million

·         Establish a new Urgent and Emerging Threat Fund to address Zika virus. 

·         Support emerging Zika-related needs related such as additional support to States for emerging public health response needs should mosquito populations known to be potential Zika carriers migrate to other States.

U.S. Agency for International Development

$335 million

·         Implement integrated vector management activities in countries at-risk of Zika.

·         Promote private sector research and development of vaccines, diagnostics, and vector control innovations.

·         Support training of healthcare staff in affected countries.

·         Establish education campaigns to empower communities in affected countries to protect themselves from Zika.

·         Issue a Global Health Security Grand Challenge calling for groundbreaking innovations in diagnostics, vector control, personal protection, community engagement and surveillance for Zika.

U.S. Department of State

$41 million

·         Support for U.S. citizens in affected countries.

·         Medical support for State Department employees in affected countries.

·         Public diplomacy, communications, and other operations activities. 

·         Support the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization to reduce the Zika threat in affected countries.  Support critical public health actions underway, such as preparedness, surveillance, data collection, and risk communication. 

·         Support UNICEF’s Zika response efforts in Brazil.

·         Boost diagnostic capabilities through deployment of equipment and specialized training.


Related: Emergency vaccine for the Zika virus may be ready by year-end