A coalition of governments and philanthropies announced Wednesday $18 million in funding to roll out the rapid scale-up of a promising new mosquito control method in Zika-hit Brazil and Colombia.
The U.K.’s Department for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development and the governments of Colombia and Brazil, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, will fund the $18 million effort. The Gates Foundation is the largest donor, with $8 million, followed by USAID, and the Wellcome Trust jointly with DfID, both offering $5 million.
If successful, the innovation will be a brand new form of vector control and potentially the most successful health intervention funded by the Gates Foundation to date.
“In terms of any other interventions we’ve measured, this is off-the-charts,” Bryan Callahan, deputy director of executive engagement at the Gates Foundation told Devex.
The technology works by infecting Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the species responsible for transmitting a host of deadly diseases including Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever — with the common bacteria Wolbachia, rendering mosquitos’ offspring unable to transmit disease.