Did Bill Gates Just Release Malaria Mosquitoes?
Bill Gates Mosquitoes Timeline
Step 1: Create a virus or disease.
This factory breeds 30 million mosquitoes per week. Here’s why.
These mosquitoes are allies in the fight against dengue and other deadly viruses.
Inside a two-story brick building in Medellín, Colombia, scientists work long hours in muggy labs breeding millions and millions of mosquitoes. They tend to the insects’ every need as they grow from larvae to pupae to adults, keeping the temperature just right and feeding them generous helpings of fishmeal, sugar, and, of course, blood.
Then, they release them across the country to breed with wild mosquitoes that can carry dengue and other viruses threatening to sicken and kill the population of Colombia.
This might sound the beginnings of a Hollywood writer’s horror film plot.
But it’s not.
This factory is real.
And the mosquitoes being released don’t terrorize the local population. Far from it. They’re actually helping to save and improve millions of lives.
Here’s how they do it: The mosquitoes being produced in this factory carry bacteria called Wolbachia that block them from transmitting dengue and other viruses, such as Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, to humans. By releasing them to reproduce with wild mosquitoes, they spread the bacteria, reducing virus transmission and protecting millions of people from illnesses.
I’ve written before about these amazing Wolbachia mosquitoes, including last year when a new study showed how effective they could be in preventing diseases. The randomized controlled trial conducted in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, found that Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes reduced the number of dengue cases in the city by 77 percent and dengue hospitalizations by 86 percent. In a new study in Medellín, dengue cases have declined by 89 percent since Wolbachia mosquitoes started being released in 2015.
These results are a huge breakthrough, offering proof that this new technology will protect entire cities and countries against the threat of mosquito-borne diseases. The World Mosquito Program, which is leading the Wolbachia effort, is now releasing these mosquitoes in 11 countries:
And what’s remarkable about the Wolbachia mosquitoes is that once enough of them are released to offer disease protection, it’s a solution that’s self-sustaining. Over time, families will be spared the heartbreak of losing loved ones and communities won’t need to spend money on prevention and treatment for these mosquito-borne diseases, freeing up funds for other health priorities.
The World Mosquito Program aims to spread Wolbachia among Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a tropical mosquito that is a host for dengue, yellow fever, and other viruses. (Malaria is spread through a parasite carried by the Anopheles mosquito and is not a focus of the Wolbachia effort.) With climate change, there is an urgency to the World Mosquito Program’s work. As global temperatures rise, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, are finding more regions of the world habitable, increasing the spread of these diseases. The biggest risk is posed by dengue, which infects more than 400 million people each year and kills 20,000.
The demand for these lifesaving mosquitoes continues to grow and that means the World Mosquito Program needs to produce hundreds of millions of Wolbachia mosquitoes. That brings us back to the factory in Medellín, which is currently the world’s largest mosquito breeding facility in the world, producing more than 30 million mosquitoes per week. Other World Mosquito Program sites around the world are also breeding Wolbachia mosquitoes, but Colombia’s is currently the largest.
Until now, killing or repelling mosquitoes with insecticides, bed nets, and traps has been the priority, not mass producing them. As difficult as it is to kill mosquitoes, raising them by the millions may be even harder. Mosquitoes must be bred, fed, and housed under ideal conditions for them to grow and reproduce. The factory in Medellín has been perfecting the process and improving its efficiency so they can breed and release Wolbachia mosquitoes on a large scale.
The centerpiece of the mosquito factory is a colony of Wolbachia mosquitoes, called the brood stock, from which all future populations of Wolbachia mosquito offspring are bred. The brood stock offspring are then raised to create millions of eggs, which hatch when put in water and become larvae. Fed with fish meal, the larvae grow to become pupae, which then become adults. To thrive, adults need sugar (check out this story about how researchers in Zambia are exploiting mosquito’s craving for sugar to create a new bait that will control the spread of malaria) and blood, which the team sources from expired stocks at blood banks.
Once the factory has bred millions of eggs and adult mosquitoes, they are ready to be released. The eggs are packaged in small gelatin capsules, each containing 300 eggs, which are given to residents to drop in water to hatch. The advantage of egg releases like this is that the eggs can easily be transported long distances and they can be hatched as needed. The factory also releases adult mosquitoes by the thousands from the back of motorcycles roving the city. The World Mosquito team is also experimenting with releases from drones. The adult releases allow the Wolbachia mosquitoes to immediately begin mating with the wild mosquito population and spreading the virus-blocking bacteria.
It’s exciting to see how far the World Mosquito Program has come. Years ago, the idea of releasing mosquitoes as an ally in the fight against diseases struck many people as crazy. But support for this innovative solution has caught on in communities around the world. These amazing mosquitoes are taking flight and saving lives.
Step 2: Release the virus or disease.
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes may soon be buzzing in Florida and California. Here’s why.
– The EPA has approved the release of more than 2 billion genetically altered male mosquitoes in Florida and California following a pilot program last year in the Florida Keys.
– Oxitec, the biotechnology company that developed the mosquitoes, says the project’s goal is to reduce the transmission of harmful diseases — such as dengue, Zika and yellow fever.
– Some environmental advocacy groups are concerned about the potential impacts of the genetically altered insects: “Once you release these mosquitoes into the environment, you cannot recall them.”
Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes that seek to ward off their natural, disease-causing counterparts may soon be released in Florida and California after the Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to further test the modified insects.
Developed by the biotechnology company Oxitec, the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are genetically modified so that males, which do not bite, are released into the wild and mate with females, which do bite. Their offspring are either male or females that never survive to reach maturity, the company says.
Millions of the mosquitoes were released in the Florida Keys in a pilot project last year, and the EPA has authorized the extension of the project in Florida as well as the expansion into four counties in California, pending approval from the states’ regulators.
Meredith Fensom, head of global public affairs at Oxitec, said that while the EPA approval covers one Florida county and four in California and the release of more than 2 billion genetically altered male mosquitoes across the states, the launch is planned to be much more limited – covering only the Florida Keys and expanding to Visalia in Tulare County, California.
‘OUTSIDE OF THE BOX’ THINKING:
The first genetically modified mosquitoes released in the U.S. to buzz in the Florida Keys .
Oxitec says the goal is to reduce the transmission of harmful diseases, such as dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya. Though the Aedes aegypti, an invasive species, make up a small fraction of the total mosquito population in Florida, they account for a large number of the cases of human diseases, Fensom said.
In Florida, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are well known, she added, and the state has seen dengue outbreaks as recently as 2020. In California, the species is growing, but there have not been confirmed cases of dengue, chikungunya, Zika or yellow fever spread through the insect, according to state health officials.
An aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit the Zika virus and dengue fever.
Part of the goal with the new EPA approval is to study the genetically altered mosquitoes in two different environments, Fensom said.
The mosquitoes Oxitec produces are males with a “self-limiting gene,” she said. The difference isn’t visible to the naked eye, but the modified insects produce similar male offspring and female offspring that cannot survive, Fensom said. In theory over time, as the female population declines, so will the overall population, according to Oxitec.
The program has drawn pushback from some environmental advocacy groups that are concerned about the possible consequences of releasing genetically altered insects.
“This is a destructive move that is dangerous for public health,” said Dana Perls, food and technology program manager with Friends of the Earth.
Perls said one of her major concerns with the expansion of the Florida project is the lack of widespread, peer-reviewed scientific data from the past year. Fensom said peer-reviewed data is expected to be released, but Perls said she was worried about the potential risk without a more rigorous and public review.
The EPA did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
THESE MOSQUITOES ‘PREFER TO BITE PEOPLE’:
Meet the invasive insect ravaging the West Coast
The lack of confirmed transmission of diseases from Aedes aegypti in California was also of concern to Perls: “There’s no immediate problem, and there are a lot of unknowns,” she said.
Perls said that without the data, it’s unclear whether the mosquitoes and the offspring they create will function how Oxitec says they will. A concern would be whether a hybrid species could be produced and difficult to eradicate or whether other species of mosquitoes will simply fill the ecological hole the Aedes aegypti may leave, she said.
Fensom, however, said the company produces the mosquitoes with the environment in mind. The insects are designed so that over time, the mosquito population dies out and is no longer circulating in the environment, she said, unlike pesticides that can persist for decades.
But for Perls, a new framework to regulate living, genetically altered organisms is needed before approving more widespread testing of such insects.
“Once you release these mosquitoes into the environment, you cannot recall them,” she said. “This could, in fact, create problems that we don’t have already.”
Step 3: Make them sick and cause panic.
Are the US malaria cases in Florida and Texas a cause for concern? Our medical analyst weighs in
The United States has seen five cases of malaria spread by mosquitos in the past two months. It’s the first time there has been local spread in the US in 20 years, according to the CDC. A feeding female Anopheles mosquito, which is a known vector for malaria, is shown.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that leads to about 241 million infections worldwide every year, with 95% of cases in Africa in what’s known as the World Health Organization African Region. The disease is relatively rare in the US, and many readers have questions.
What is malaria, and what are its symptoms? Can it be spread through casual contact? How is it diagnosed and treated? Are there vaccines available or other ways to prevent malaria? Why are there now cases in the US? And how worried should people be that they could contract the disease?
To help us with these questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Wen is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.
CNN: What is malaria, and what are its symptoms?
Dr. Leana Wen: Malaria is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease that is caused by a parasite that’s spread by the Anopheles mosquito. There are five main types of malaria parasites that are part of a family known as Plasmodiidae. Plasmodium falciparum is the type most associated with severe and fatal infections, and it contributes to substantial mortality in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia.
Plasmodium vivax is the type that’s been detected in the locally acquired cases in the US, and though it tends to cause less severe disease than P. falciparum, it is still a medical emergency and must promptly be treated. Plasmodium vivax can also remain in the liver and cause relapsing disease, which is another reason for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of malaria range from mild to extremely severe. They include high fevers, throbbing headaches, shaking chills, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some individuals may become anemic and jaundiced, with yellowing of their skin and eyes, due to the destruction of red blood cells. If untreated, malaria can lead to seizures, kidney failure, coma and death.
In 2021, about 619,0000 people worldwide died from malaria, according to the World Health Organization. Most deaths occur in children younger than age 5. Other people who are at higher risk of severe outcomes include pregnant individuals and those with HIV and AIDS.
CNN: Can malaria be spread through casual contact?
Wen: No. While malaria is an infectious disease, it’s not spread from person to person. This is a vector-borne disease, meaning that it’s spread through another organism — in this case, the Anopheles mosquito. This mosquito must bite someone infected with malaria and then bite another person to spread the infection. You cannot get malaria by breathing the same air or sharing utensils with someone who has the disease. Malaria is not sexually transmitted. However, malaria can be spread through blood transfusion and sharing needles with an infected person.
CNN: How is malaria diagnosed and treated?
Wen: Malaria is diagnosed through a blood test that looks for the presence of the Plasmodium parasite under a microscope. Prompt diagnosis is important because it allows treatment to begin, and treatment is key to preventing progression to severe disease. In addition, if malaria is diagnosed in areas that typically don’t have local transmission, this allows public health officials to trace the origin of malaria and take steps to limit further spread.
There are multiple medications available to treat malaria. In accordance with CDC guidelines, they are tailored to the type of Plasmodium that is detected where the person was infected, and any specific characteristics. For example, there may be different treatments for children or pregnant patients. Severe malaria tends to be treated with an injection medication, while less severe forms could be treated with an oral pill. These antimalarials are highly effective and must be started as soon as possible. That is part of the reason the CDC issued its alert, so that clinicians can be on the lookout for possible malaria cases and hospitals can be sure to have diagnostic and treatment modalities on hand.
CNN: Are there vaccines available?
Wen: In 2021, the World Health Organization started recommending widespread use of the first and only malaria vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa and some other parts of the world where there are moderate to high levels of malaria transmission. This vaccine, known as RTS,S/AS01 or Mosquirix, has been found to reduce severe and deadly malaria by about 30%, according to WHO.
CNN: What are ways to prevent malaria?
Wen: Travelers to areas with endemic malaria are generally recommended to take prophylactic, or preventive, medications during their trip. Some medications may need to be started before travel commences, while others can be taken right before the trip and continued for the duration. These medications include chloroquine, doxycycline, atovaquone/proguaunil (Malarone) and mefloquine. Note that the vaccine is generally not recommended for travelers at this time.
In addition to what health professionals call chemoprophylaxis, which is prevention through medications, people should also try to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellant containing DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants, using mosquito netting, and other steps. The CDC has excellent advice on controlling mosquitos around you, such as removing standing water that could lead to mosquito larvae breeding. Not only do these steps reduce the risk of malaria — they also reduce the risk of other mosquito-borne disease.
CNN: Why are there now malaria cases in the US?
Wen: This situation is actually not new. Malaria used to be endemic in warmer parts of the US. The disease was successfully eliminated by a federal agency that has since become the CDC. Methods used then include improved sanitation, widespread insecticide use and medical treatments that interrupted transmission.
While the US treats travelers infected with malaria in other parts of the world, there have not been cases of locally transmitted malaria since 2003. It is certainly worrisome that this recurrence is happening now, and it threatens the progress made decades ago. Reasons for the new cases could include increased travel bringing in more malaria cases as well as warmer temperatures that facilitate more Anopheles mosquito activity. In any case, clinicians must be alert for possible malaria cases, including in patients who do not have a travel history to malaria-endemic areas.
CNN: How worried should people be that they could contract malaria?
Wen: For people living within the US who are not traveling to malaria-endemic areas, the chance of contracting malaria is extremely low. Right now, there have been five cases in total in Florida and Texas of locally transmitted malaria. That’s enough for public health officials and clinicians to be on guard, but the public should not be worried. People should not be trying to get the vaccine or taking medications to try to prevent malaria.
Of course, everyone should still work to reduce the mosquito population around them and prevent mosquito bites whenever possible. And if people are traveling to parts of the world where local transmission of malaria is common, they need to take appropriate preventive measures, including possibly preventive medications, and be on the lookout for symptoms when they return. And those who live in warm climates and who have unexplained fever should contact their health care providers.
Step 4: Profit by selling them the cure for the disease you created.
Bill Gates Announces $168 Million to Develop Next-Generation Malaria Vaccine
NEW YORK — Bill Gates announced today that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $168.7 million to PATH for its Malaria Vaccine Initiative to develop vaccines for malaria – a disease that kills thousands of African children every day.
The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is working with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals to develop a first-generation vaccine candidate, known as RTS,S, which could become the first-ever approved malaria vaccine. With the new grant announced today, MVI will support the development of next-generation vaccines that could provide even greater and longer-lasting protection.
“I’m very hopeful that the malaria vaccine currently in advanced testing will be proven effective, but that will just be the first step,” said Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “Now it’s time to develop a new generation of vaccines that are even more effective, and could someday help eradicate malaria altogether.”
Gates announced the new funding at the UN Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit, a meeting of heads of state, CEOs, UN officials, and other leaders. At the event, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership launched the Global Malaria Action Plan, a comprehensive global strategy to fight malaria. The Gates Foundation grant and other commitments announced today will help address key priorities in the Action Plan.
Grant to Support Research on a New Generation of Malaria Vaccines
The Gates Foundation grant will support MVI’s efforts to expand its vaccine R&D pipeline with projects ranging from early-stage laboratory research to advanced clinical testing. MVI will work with partners to discover new antigens and adjuvants that could lead to more effective vaccines, and develop new tools to select the most promising candidates for further development.
MVI will also work to foster a more competitive vaccine marketplace and help ensure that future vaccines will be affordable and accessible in developing countries. They will conduct market assessments, demand forecasting, and modeling studies to guide policymakers and vaccine manufacturers, and partner with vaccine makers in developing countries to keep costs low.
“These new funds are recognition that we have a solid research and development strategy, and the team to deliver on it,” said Dr. Christian Loucq, Director of MVI. “This commitment should signal to potential research partners that the time is ripe to work with us to help defeat this horrible disease. Already, we have added to our roster of partners and entered into collaborative agreements on vaccine components, ways to boost their potency, and methods for testing their biological activity.”
“Our strategy for developing a malaria vaccine follows the PATH approach to neglected diseases, which has shown that investment in core areas of research and development, particularly vaccine technology, does yield important advances,” said Dr. Christopher J. Elias, president and CEO of PATH. “The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative is now ready to accelerate further the development of what the world urgently needs: safe, effective, and affordable vaccines that reduce the suffering caused by malaria.”
The grant addresses one of the priorities in the new Global Malaria Action Plan, released today by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. The plan provides a unified global strategy for fighting malaria, including greater use of today’s tools, and research on vaccines and other new technologies.
“The Global Malaria Action Plan makes a compelling case for greater investment in malaria,” said Gates. “If we have the chance to save millions of lives, and a clear plan to make it happen, we have an obligation to act. We’re committed to supporting a range of efforts to make the Action Plan a reality – today’s grant is just the first step.”
New Malaria Control Success in Zambia and Ethiopia
Gates hailed new data from the World Malaria Report, released last week by WHO, showing encouraging progress against malaria in several African countries through 2006. He also highlighted more recent data from Zambia and Ethiopia that further demonstrate the impact of aggressive, large-scale malaria control programs.
The Zambian health ministry reported this week that since 2006, malaria control efforts have helped to reduce malaria parasite prevalence in children by 50%. Since 2002, the percentage of households with at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net has increased from 14% to 60%, and malaria control successes have helped to reduce overall child mortality by 29%.
Earlier this month, Ethiopia’s health ministry announced that it has reached nearly 70% of households in high-risk areas with at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net and/or indoor residual spraying, and that effective malaria treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy is now available nationwide.
“The good news from Ethiopia and Zambia demonstrates that extraordinary progress can be made against malaria, even in the poorest and most remote communities,” said Gates. “By building on and replicating these successes globally, we can save millions of lives.”
Both countries are partners in the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), a PATH initiative that is funded by the Gates Foundation.
Did Bill Gates Just Release Malaria Mosquitoes?
Malaria cases in Florida and Texas
Health officials issued a warning after five cases of malaria were identified in Florida and Texas in people who had not recently traveled overseas, sparking concerns about local transmission.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited a risk of increased “imported malaria cases” amid a busy summer travel season.
What is malaria?
Malaria can also be transmitted through infected blood during transfusions or organ transplants, for instance, or by a pregnant mother to her fetus.
The disease is most prevalent in warm countries, particularly in tropical climates. According to the World Health Organization, about 247 million cases of malaria and 619,000 deaths were reported worldwide in 2021.
The United States and 42 other countries and territories have been certified as malaria-free by the WHO.
What are the symptoms of malaria?
People typically begin to experience symptoms 10 to 15 days after they are infected with the malaria parasite, though symptoms can appear earlier or far later — even one year after infection, according to the CDC.
When malaria isn’t treated properly, it can cause kidney failure, seizures, coma and death. Vulnerable people — children younger than 5, pregnant people, older adults and those with compromised immune systems — are more at risk.
How can you prevent and treat malaria?
Is there a vaccine for malaria?
However, there is a vaccine recommended by the WHO for children living in countries with moderate to high transmission of malaria. The RTS,S vaccine is designed to act against P. falciparum, the malaria parasite most likely to cause severe infections.
Climate Change and malaria
In warmer weather, mosquitoes “need to feed more regularly,” so they tend to bite more, Cook said. High temperatures also speed the development of malaria parasites inside mosquitoes, she said. And as climate change brings more intense storms and flooding to some parts of the world, the mosquito population could grow, because mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
Bill Gates and malaria – Follow the Money
At the Malaria Summit London 2018, the Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1 billion through 2023 to end malaria. We are now in the year 2023 and we’ve had these rare outbreaks happening in Florida and Texas.
The more money they invest the worse the situation gets, just like Covid. In 2017 the World Health Organization showed 24 countries with a significant malaria burden seeing signs of resurgence. The shift will now go from taking over the counter drugs to get our new vaccine.
Bill Gates released a swarm of mosquitoes on an unsuspecting audience at a TED conference in 2009.
“Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected,” said Gates as he opened the jar. After waiting a minute, Gates then stated that the mosquitoes were not infected with the disease.
The mosquitoes being produced in this factory carry bacteria called Wolbachia. By releasing them to reproduce with wild mosquitoes, they spread the bacteria.
According to Bill Gates, “This new technology will protect entire cities and countries against the threat of mosquito-borne diseases.”
Then why are people just now suddenly getting Malaria in Florida and Texas, the two major conservative states of America.
There are no coincidences when it comes to a mass murderer like Bill Gates. They know we are not willingly getting vaccinated, so they create different ways to kill us via food or modified insects.
This video game from 2015 Metal Gear Solid 5 The Phantom Pain shows you predictive programming and mentions Wolbachia.