HOUSTON — With 4.5 million people in a hot, muggy metropolis built atop a bayou, America’s fourth-largest city, Houston, is a perfect target for the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But it may be better prepared than any other urban center to stop an outbreak...
The $1.1 billion in Zika funding that Congress passed last year runs out in September. The Trump administration seeks to cut the C.D.C. budget by $1.2 billion, to what the agency had 20 years ago.
Many county health departments depend on C.D.C. grants, and they have already been “eviscerated,” said Claude Jacob, president of the health officials’ association. Some 43,000 public health jobs were cut over the last decade.
“We need a contingency fund for epidemics,” said Dr. Paul Jarris, chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, which fights for Zika funding because of the danger to infants. “If we have a hurricane, FEMA doesn’t have to wait for months until Congress responds. Not having a fund just doesn’t make sense.”
Money is not the only obstacle to turning back the virus.
If there is no intense epidemic somewhere in the Western Hemisphere this summer, it will be hard to test any candidate Zika vaccine, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
For a valid study, between 2,500 and 5,000 people — ideally in several locations — must get either a vaccine or a placebo.
“If we get a big, big outbreak, we can get an answer about the vaccine’s efficacy by mid-2018,” he said. “If we don’t, it may take till 2020 or 2021.”