Pfizer Foundation Donates Millions to Help Combat Zika

The CDC Foundation and the Florida Department of Health have announced that the the Pfizer Foundation has donated millions to improve Zika response efforts.

*Updated on 10/26/2016 at 4:09 PM EST

The CDC Foundation recently announced that the Pfizer Foundation granted them a $1million donation, aimed at advancing efforts to combat the spread of the Zika virus. In addition, the CDC Foundation has also received, “donations of up to 170,000 doses of injectable reversible contraceptive product from Pfizer…for the Zika Contraception Access Network (Z-CAN) in Puerto Rico,” according to a press release.

The Pfizer Foundation funds will go towards Zika virus outbreak emergency response, as well as Z-CAN. Judith A. Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation commented, “The generous support of Pfizer and the Pfizer Foundation is vitally important to help combat the devastating effects of the Zika outbreak. We can do so much more working together to help prevent Zika from affecting more families.”

Women infected with Zika during pregnancy are likely to pass the infection to their developing fetuses, in turn, causing congenital microcephaly— a lifelong disability caused by severe brain defects. Microcephaly can cause eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. In Puerto Rico, for those who are choosing to delay or avoid pregnancy due to the Zika virus outbreak, Z-CAN has been offering a variety of free contraceptive options. Z-CAN comes after an April 2016 study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that, according to a 2008 survey conducted in a Puerto Rico hospital, 65.5% of pregnancies were unplanned. The report also mentioned that 1 in 5 women between the ages of 15 and 44 do not desire to become pregnant. However, at the time, “access to contraception [was] constrained by limited availability, especially of highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives, high cost, incomplete insurance coverage, and lack of trained providers.”

The Zika virus continues to evolve and threaten the wellbeing of those at highest risk of developing Zika-related complications. Currently, there are 180 locally-acquired cases of Zika virus infections in Florida, and a total of 3,879 travel-associated cases in the United States.

In addition to the Zika virus funding granted to the CDC Foundation, Pfizer Foundation has granted an additional $1 million to the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to assist in Zika response efforts. According to the DOH, the funds will be used to advance education efforts among Florida residents, aid in the state’s ongoing Zika virus investigations, and fund necessary supplies and lab equipment. In addition, the DOH also announced that it will be “using these funds to purchase Zika prevention kits to distribute in Miami-Dade County,” Florida’s current active zone of transmission.

Commenting on the increasing threat of the Zika virus, Sally Susman, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Pfizer Inc, stated, “A challenge like Zika requires every organization to bring forward their resources and expertise to manage health risks that exist for people in affected areas of the country. We welcome the opportunity to partner with the CDC Foundation and healthcare professionals to address today's health needs while work continues to identify longer-term solutions.”