Obama and Zika - NO SHUTDOWN HERE!

Daily Press Briefing by the Press Secretary, 5/9/2016

From: noreply@messages.whitehouse.gov
Date: 2016-05-09 21:14

Subject: Daily Press Briefing by the Press Secretary, 5/9/2016

Q Josh, I want to go back to Zika. Has this administration gotten any word on the tests for treatment or the status on what's next for those who have it, and also on efforts to prevent -- what's the status on what's happening?

MR. EARNEST: I don’t have an updated status for you in terms of the work that's being done at the CDC and the NIH on a range of diagnostic or vaccine development. What I do know is there our public health professionals have indicated that, if given additional resources, that there's more that they could do to speed up the development of critical diagnostic tools and speed up the development of a vaccine. One of the limiting factors is lab capacity, and additional resources could be devoted to expanding lab capacity that would allow for the more effective use of diagnostic tests, both in terms of using them more broadly, but also in terms of getting a more prompt response to the tests. The other thing that our public health professionals have indicated is that we're going to be relying on the private sector to do a lot of the work around vaccine development. Particularly when it comes to widespread testing in eventually the manufacturing of a vaccine, we're going to rely on the private sector that has resources that it can devote to that effort. But we know that that would require a multiyear commitment on the part of the private sector to produce a vaccine in quantities that are that large. So that's why we have made a strong case to the United States Congress that they don’t just need to provide funding expeditiously, as a bipartisan group of governors has indicated, but we also need them to make a longer-term commitment to those funds so that the private sector can be confident about making their own long-term commitment that will be necessary to complete the testing and manufacture of a vaccine that could protect the American people from Zika. So this is an urgent effort that requires a long-term commitment. And those are two things that Congress isn’t very good at. They aren’t very good about acting quickly, and they aren’t very good about making long-term commitments to things. But for the good of the American people and for the safety of our public health, we need Congress to act quickly to make a long-term commitment to the resources that our public health professionals need to keep us safe from the Zika virus.
Q So you have world health organizations, the CDC, and now the governors and others are saying that this is going to be a pandemic. What are the Republicans saying to you or to the President or to leg affairs here, or whomever, the reasoning as to why they are not making this an urgent issue right now?

MR. EARNEST: Frankly, I don’t know what good explanation there could be possibly be.
Q What is the explanation they've given you?

MR. EARNEST: Well, listen, I'll leave it to Republicans to make their own case about what explanation they have for ignoring the advice of our public health professionals, ignoring the urging of our public health professionals, and not providing much-needed resources to the effort to combat Zika. We know that there are resources that could be used to expand the use of diagnostic tests and to accelerate the development of a vaccine. We also know that there are resources that can and should be used to fight mosquitoes. This is a mosquito-borne illness. And if we can provide additional resources to state and local authorities who are trying to fight mosquito populations, we can have a positive impact on reducing the spread, or potential spread of this virus.

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