Per Bloomberg, Google has a new plan to eradicate mosquitoes worldwide.
In an article titled “Google’s Parent Has a Plan to Eliminate Mosquitoes Worldwide,” Bloomberg provided insight into Google parent company Alphabet’s plans to eradicate mosquitoes worldwide. The journalists spoke to a scientist at Verity, an Alphabet-owned life sciences unit.
Jacob Crawford, a Verily senior scientist riding with Parkes, begins describing a mosquito-control technique with dazzling potential. These particular vermin, he explains, were bred in the ultra-high-tech surroundings of Verily’s automated mosquito rearing system, 200 miles away in South San Francisco. They were infected with Wolbachia, a common bacterium. When those 80,000 lab-bred Wolbachia-infected, male mosquitoes mate with their counterpart females in the wild, the result is stealth annihilation: the offspring never hatch.
The article explains that Alphabet’s reason for wiping out mosquitoes isn’t primarily humanitarian but rather earnings focused:
Verily guards its technology closely. But it stands to reason that if it succeeds in making mosquito control easy and cheap enough, it could have a lucrative offering on its hands: Many governments and businesses around the globe might be glad to pay for a solution to their mosquito problems.
In the arid climate of California’s Central Valley, A. aegypti are detested for their vicious bite. But there, at least, they don’t typically transmit disease. Other places aren’t so lucky. The mosquito species is among the world’s deadliest, spreading diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya in the tropics and subtropics. The diseases its bite carries kill tens of thousands of people every year and infect millions more. Releasing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into the wild may eventually wipe out entire populations of deadly mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.
The article also noted that the future funding of this project is not set in stone:
With this year’s season wrapping up, the company has yet to decide whether it will further expand the program next year. Verily wouldn’t say how much it costs to manufacture and release tens of thousands of mosquitoes every day, but it’s a safe bet that it’s still an expensive proposition.
“The key part is trying to be able to do a program like this in a very affordable and efficient way,” Crawford, the Verily scientist, says, “so that we can go to places where there isn’t a lot of money.”
Read the full article at Bloomberg.