Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Letter of the day: Is Zika a scapegoat?

Published:Monday | February 1, 2016 | 2:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

It can't be a coincidence that Brazil is the only Zika-carrying mosquito country that released genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes and administered a vaccine to pregnant women, then ended up with more than 4,000 babies with microcephaly.

It seems to me that no one is asking the right questions, especially the media. To date, there is no evidence that Zika causes microcephaly, but out of an abundance of caution, governments in the region are assuming this to be the case and are making policy changes and issuing advice to pregnant and child-bearing women.

We can't hear, however, anything about the vaccine Brazil gave to its pregnant women in 2014 or the effects of the GM mosquito on the Zika-carrying mosquito. We know that the GM mosquito's purpose is to infect the egg of the female mosquito and kill it in the larval stage. Is it possible that a Zika- (or non-Zika) carrying mosquito mating with a GM mosquito, then infecting a pregnant mother, passes on to her foetus a deadly cocktail?

It can't also be a coincidence that Zika has been around for some 50 years with no reported connection to birth defects of any sort. And it can't be coincidence that this outbreak of microcephaly, some 1,300 times the norm, is only happening in Brazil.

I believe it's time the media step up to the plate and start asking some serious questions of our medical personnel with responsibility for protecting the population from infections. The fact that Brazil is hosting the Olympics this summer might make it inconvenient and uncomfortable, as the incidence of birth defects might just be a Brazil problem and would be a danger to those visiting during the Olympics.

Clearly, there are too many unknowns here, but what is without debate is the lack of probity and the haste to associate Zika with birth defects without any evidence when there is more evidence by correlation to associate the birth defects with the vaccine, genetically modified mosquitoes, or a combination of all three.

MICHAEL ENNIS