Last updated: 11:08 AM ET, Thu February 11 2016

White House Requests $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika Virus

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | February 09, 2016

White House Requests $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika Virus

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The White House announced Monday that President Barack Obama will request $1.8 billion in emergency funding from Congress to combat the Zika virus.

According to Gregory Korte and Liz Szabo of USA Today, the Obama administration is requesting the funding as a result of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declaring a Level 1 emergency, something that has only happened three previous times, including Ebola in 2014, H1N1 in 2009 and during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Obama is looking to use the $1.8 billion to help control the spread of the Zika virus and educate people. Some of the programs in the proposal include mosquito control, vaccine research, education and improving health care for low-income pregnant women.

READ MORE: How Travel is Reacting to Zika Virus

As part of the funding, the Obama administration will look to use $355 million to aid the countries and regions in South America, Central America and the Caribbean impacted by the virus. The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a public health emergency after tests have connected the mosquito-borne sickness to a birth defect in newborns called microcephaly.

President Obama told CBS This Morning, “And so we are going to be putting up a legislative proposal to Congress to resource both the research on vaccines and diagnostics but also helping in terms of public health systems. There shouldn't be panic on this. This is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously. The good news is this is not like Ebola. People don't die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don't even know that they have it. What we now know, though, is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women or women who are thinking about getting pregnant.”

READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Travel Insurance and Zika Virus

One of the main purposes behind the new $1.8 billion proposal is to accelerate vaccine research, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci told the USA Today that the organization hopes to have the first trials by the end of the year.

The emergency funding could help doctors avoid the typical approval time frame of three-to-five years and gain approval faster. The quicker the vaccines are discovered and widely accessible, the sooner the Zika virus can be eradicated.

TravelPulse founder Mark Murphy appeared on ABC 7 New York Feb. 4 to talk about the travel implications of Zika virus:


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