Dengue kills some 21,000 people a year worldwide, infecting between 100 and 400 million, according to the World Health Organization. Singapore is one of the countries most affected by the disease, and to fight it, it is breeding millions of mosquitoes for research.
At the head of more than one will come the investigations in China that, According to various sources in the United States, caused the coronavirus.
But no, nothing further than this.
The motive of the National Environment Agency of Singapore (NEA) is to prevent the spread of dengue, according to the portal Undark.
Mosquitoes under investigation in Singapore and how they suppress dengue
In the NEA, while the male insects feed on sugar water, the females lay eggs on strips of paper half submerged in water. 24 million eggs are produced weekly.
All the mosquitoes at the site are Aedes aegypti, the species that transmits dengue. But the NEA researchers infect them with a bacterium called Wolbachia, which they pass on to the next generation of mosquitoes.
With this, the transmission of dengue will become much more difficult: and, even, the bacteria can interfere with the reproductive capacity of the males.
The work of the Singaporean scientists dates back to just before 2016: since that year, male mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacteria have been released across the country. By 2019, up to 2 million insects were released per week.
Already in 2022, the number increased to 5 million mosquitoes released weekly.
The city of Yishun, one of those that has been the center of research, saw the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito drop by up to 98%.
Dengue cases decreased by 88%.
The method of fighting dengue and the spread of COVID-19, similar but not so much
The method of suppression chosen by scientists instead of population replacement has to do with COVID-19. Like the coronavirus, dengue is caused by an RNA virus that can evolve relatively quickly.
Advanced infections could provide opportunities for dengue viruses to evolve and adapt to the bacteria.
The good news is that unlike SARS-CoV-2, which can evolve from person to person, dengue requires two species to serve as hosts: the mosquito and the human. Therefore, viral evolution slows down.
At the moment, the dengue program is running in Singapore. Will it be taken over by some other country in the future?