The Obama administration is requesting $1.8 Billion in emergency spending on Zika Virus. The CDC and NIAID are testifying before Congress this week (2 March, 2016) about the need for the proposed spending. As cases of Zika continue to affect US citizens, Congress is rightly worried about a public health crisis emerging this summer. The most contentious issues appear to be fetal effects of Zika, birth control and the amount requested. There are questions of whether funds could be shifted from Ebola to Zika. However, Ebola is not going away and shifting funds could end progress toward an Ebola vaccine. Zika infections are already occurring in Puerto Rico, a US territory and therefore a US responsibility. Florida is at risk for transmission of Zika because of its location, and all parts of the Eastern US have mosquito species that can vector the disease if it has a start.
$2 billion sounds like a lot of money, but the health costs of a Zika outbreak, in the US could exceed that total. Compared to the $3.8 trillion US budget, $2 Billion is 0.05% of what the US spends. Funding on public health research is an investment. Past discoveries, such as those from Yellow Fever research in the 1890s, are still paying dividends over 100 years later.