AUGUST 23, 2022
Bill Gates’ new blog post has left his fans surprised. The Microsoft co-founder took to his blog a few days ago to share some astonishing details about a factory in Colombia that actually breeds mosquitoes. Yes, you read that right! The World Mosquito Program is leading the efforts at this factory in Colombia’s Medellín. In the factory, scientists work day and night to breed mosquitoes; more than 30 million of them per week. After that, they are released by the scientists to mate with wild mosquitoes in the country. The reason- these insects actually help save millions of lives.
Bill Gates shared the post as part of what he’s dubbed as ‘Mosquito Week’, to generate more awareness about what he believes to be the world’s deadliest animal.
According to Bill Gates, the mosquitoes bred in the factory carry a bacteria called Wolbachia. This prevents them from transmitting dengue, Zika virus, yellow fever and chikungunya to humans. By reproducing with wild mosquitoes, the lab-bred insects will spread the bacteria. This in turn will lead to lower transmission of diseases and prevent millions of lives being lost to such preventable illnesses.
What are the results of the experiment?
A study in Medellín has revealed that dengue cases have gone down by 89 percent since the project of releasing Wolbachia mosquitoes started in 2015.
According to Bill Gates, the project is now being expanded to other countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Kiribati, Australia, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
What are the future aims of the World Mosquito Program?
The program aims to spread Wolbachia among Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are responsible for viruses like dengue, yellow fever, and others. As global temperatures rise due to climate change, the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are finding more parts of the world to be habitable. So, there’s an urgency to the World Mosquito Program’s work.
The benefit of the program is that it is self-sustaining. Over time, as the number of Wolbachia mosquitoes increases, communities will not have to spend money on treatment and prevention of mosquito-borne diseases. This in turn, will help the authorities direct resources towards more pressing healthcare issues.
Bill Gates ended his blog post by praising the World Mosquito Program for its efforts. The Microsoft co-founder wrote that these “amazing mosquitoes are taking flight and saving lives.”