(CMR) In an effort to combat the surge in dengue cases across the Caribbean, two private companies have announced a partnership to release mosquitoes bred with a bacterium that blocks the dengue virus.
This controversial method, which was previously used in the Cayman Islands, is expected to start in several countries once approval is granted.
Orbit Services Partners Inc., a company registered in Barbados, and Verily, a San Francisco-based health technology company, made the announcement on Friday.
Orbit chairman Anthony Da Silva said the companies have been meeting with government officials in the region in hopes of launching the project early next year. It would target nations including Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Maarten, St. Martin, Suriname, Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Genetically modified mosquitoes have been successfully used in the Cayman Islands, Panama, parts of Brazil and India to control Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2019, over 1 billion mosquitoes have been released.
In 2010, scientists released genetically modified mosquitoes in an experiment to fight dengue fever in the Cayman Islands, the first time genetically altered mosquitoes were set loose in the wild after years of laboratory experiments and hypothetical calculations.
In 2019, the Cayman Islands Government cut ties with Oxitec, the company that released GM mosquitoes to fight the zika virus here.