Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will hold a joint, one-day summit with the U.S. and Canadian leaders Thursday that will focus on a range of issues, including increasing vaccine sharing with the rest of the world.
The leadership meeting comes as fears of a global health threat loom large over public health officials, especially in light of fears over the spread of the Zika virus in South America and extreme weather events in Mexico that put additional strains on the U.S. mosquito population.
The vaccines for the Zika virus, Zika a genetic mutation found in Brazil in 2016, was only given to pregnant women in those countries that experienced large-scale outbreaks. It’s possible the virus will become widespread outside those areas after last year’s devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
“This is a serious disease,” Dr. Michael Bell, acting director of the CDC’s global programs, told Congress last week in a report titled “Zika’s Spring and Summer.”
The CDC wrote in that report that vaccination efforts “should be phased in to reach our work force, public health workers, and other people at risk for getting Zika virus disease.”
The virus can cause the first-ever birth defects linked to motherhood, including small heads and underdeveloped brains, and can also lead to severe neurological disorders in babies. One U.S. newborn has died and another has developmental issues because of the Zika virus, according to the CDC.
The health threat in Mexico due to climate change is putting strain on efforts to limit the disease’s spread, according to officials.
Citing the fact that the Zika virus can survive at low temperatures, despite the typical conditions of hot weather, low humidities and large bodies of water, Dr. Robert Klose, executive director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told Congress that Mexican transmission “is nearly untreatable at this point.”
On the trade front, Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said this week the incoming government of the United States and Mexico will have to discuss certain issues of critical importance on trade.
“We will have to see how they view certain areas in trade, especially in cars because they have a lot of percentage of import,” said Mr. Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference with a group of foreign correspondents.
“We will have to see what position the new government takes because we also are paying the price,” he said.
He did not name the specific vehicles that would need further talks to reflect the new government’s views.