Testing on a vaccine against the Zika virus is set to begin in January, but trials may be delayed if Congress does not pass a bill to fund the fight against the virus.
“It’s going to take that much longer to prove that the vaccine works,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, who says testing next January on a promising vaccine faces delays. “If it takes that much longer to prove that it works then you take that much longer to get it out to the people who need it.”
Considering that Congress will not send a bill to the president’s desk before they adjourn for a 7-week recess, and given that Summer will nearly be over by the time they return to Washington in September, we have to consider the possibility that our Republican-controlled Congress will never pass a bill. Even when they do return in September, they will only be in session for a matter of weeks between that time and the end of the year.
It’s entirely possible we will not see a Zika funding bill sent to the president’s desk until nearly Christmas or perhaps even next year under a new Congress. If that is the case, vaccine testing may be delayed by a significant amount of time.
The best case scenario I can imagine is funding for the virus being attached to a continuing resolution that prevents the government from being shut down in October. The threat of a government shutdown may be just enough leverage the president and congressional Democrats need to pass funding.