Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Released in Africa

Djibouti National Malaria Control Program launches
by Judy P.
Djibouti City (Precision Vaccinations News)

The Government of Djibouti has made a historic move in the fight against malaria by launching the first pilot releases of Oxitec's Friendly™ mosquitoes on African soil.

According to Oxitec, this marks a significant milestone for the Djibouti Friendly™ Mosquito Program, a public-private partnership.

This initiative aims to control the Anopheles stephensi mosquito, which is responsible for the significant increase in urban malaria cases in Djibouti's capital city, which has a population of over 1 million and is located in the Horn of Africa.

This innovative program is essential since the World Health Organization predicts that African malaria outbreaks will continue to report the highest rates of infections and deaths in 2024.

Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec, commented in a press release on May 23, 2024, "Decades of progress in the race to end malaria are at risk as mosquitoes are adapting and outsmarting human interventions."

"Our Friendly™ mosquitoes are already proven in Brazil's fight against the vector of dengue fever, and Oxitec's mission is to expand this impact to address the world's most urgent pest threats."

In the United States, genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in Florida and Texas.

In Florida, travel-related and locally acquired dengue and malaria cases have been reported over the past year.

In the three pilot seasons, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and Oxitec have together demonstrated that Oxitec non-biting, male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can reduce the local abundance of mosquitoes. Mosquito releases in the U.S. followed the Environmental Protection Agency's approval in March 2022.

While two malaria vaccines are now available in Africa, neither has been U.S. FDA-approved.

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Article by
Donald Hackett