Guided by two incoming Florida leaders, a 61-member-strong congressional coalition recently urged the federal government to allow the use of a genetically engineered product to suppress the mosquito responsible for Zika and other tropical viruses.
Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran (R-Dist. 37) and Democratic Leader-designate Janet Cruz (Dist. 62) wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, requesting Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to employ Friendly Aedes — a product manufactured by Germantown, Maryland-based Oxitec — to battle the Aedes aegypti mosquito-borne Zika outbreak in Florida.
Corcoran and Cruz expressed concerns over delays in authorization, saying that postponement “presents an unnecessary health risk" to Floridians — potentially resulting in "the loss of human life." They were joined in a separate but similar vein when state Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Dist. 65), backed by elected leaders representing almost one million Pinellas County residents, also addressed Secretary Burwell, asking for an EUA to use the same product.
“If an EUA or another method allows for our Friendly Aedes solution to be deployed, we're prepared to work with federal, state and local health officials to help all communities that require it in order to address this public health emergency," Oxitec’s CEO Hadyn Parry said, stating that his company is confident in the government’s desire to help.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry chikungunya and dengue, viruses that are also hazardous to human health, as well as the Zika disease.