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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY: Zika Vaccine Could Save Suffering and Costs

Study shows a Zika vaccine for women of childbearing age doesn’t have to be perfect to be valuable

Global climate change has raised concerns that mosquito-borne diseases could become increasingly prevalent in the United States as warmer temperatures lead to increased mosquito activity.

The 2015-2016 Zika outbreak, which impacted much of the Americas, prompted efforts to accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of babies born in the U.S. whose mother was confirmed with the Zika virus during pregnancy had associated birth defects. The birth defects, like congenital Zika syndrome, can be devastating, fatal, and costly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in high-income countries like the U.S., the associated costs of caring for a single child with Zika-related birth defects have been estimated to be as high as $10 million.

A new study led by researchers at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) and the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine found that routinely giving the Zika vaccine to women of childbearing age could save money if the risk of Zika is around that of other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. These diseases have been endemics in many parts of Latin and South America. Both are febrile, cause severe joint pain and could be life threatening if left untreated. According to the CDC, the same mosquito that carries the Zika virus, the Aedes species mosquito, also carries dengue and chikungunya.

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