#ChallengeAccepted Wolbachia Aedes Mosquito
📸: National Environment Agency
Every year, over 100 million people fall sick with dengue, endemic in over 100 countries worldwide. Singapore has 22,448 cases so far this year. Our worst record of 35,315 cases and 28 deaths was in 2020. There is no universal dengue vaccine, and no specific treatment for dengue. Singapore has implemented wide measures to reduce mosquito breeding grounds, but how to combat the dengue-carrying Aedes mosquito when it can multiply in stagnant water as small as the size of a coin?
#ChallengeAccepted We fight mosquito with mosquito — using the male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquito to render the female Aedes mosquito infertile.
Since 2019, NEA’s “mosquito factory” has bred over 200 million male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes under Project Wolbachia. Every week, about 1.5 to 2 million are released around certain parts of Singapore, such as Yishun, Tampines and Choa Chu Kang.
These mosquitoes do not bite or transmit disease. But when they mate with the female Aedes mosquitoes, the eggs produced do not hatch. This means the number of Aedes mosquitoes will eventually decline. From July 2022, Project Wolbachia has expanded to cover more than 300,000 homes, and 31% of HDB blocks in Singapore. The number of male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes produced per week will also increase from the current two million to five million by the end of 2022.
At the sites where male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes have been released for at least a year, the Aedes mosquito numbers are suppressed by up to 98%, and dengue cases have gone down by 88%. The Wolbachia technology is not a silver bullet alone, but it complements our ongoing drive to instil responsible housekeeping.
Singapore has beaten the Anopheles mosquito which carries malaria, and was declared malaria-free in 1982 by the World Health Organisation. We can win the war against the Aedes mosquito with our collective efforts. It’s not over till it’s over. #ProjectWolbachiaSG