Gov. Rick Scott, lamenting federal inaction on the Zika virus, has earmarked $25 million in state money for vaccine research.
“I have traveled multiple times to Washington this year to meet with congressional leaders to tell them how urgent this need is. Yet, despite endless claims of support from those within both parties, nothing has been done,” Scott said in a written statement.
“Every minute that passes that Congress doesn’t approve funding means more time is lost from researching this virus. For the sake of our state’s future children, this is time we cannot afford to waste.”
The move brought state spending on Zika to $61.2 million. Earlier, Scott used his emergency authority to pump state money into preparedness efforts.
The state Department of Health will oversee a competitive grant process to expedite development of a Zika vaccine and new testing methods, the governor’s office said.
“I look forward to seeing research partners across Florida come together to help combat the Zika virus and ensure our state is safe,” Scott said.
The governor announced the initiative Thursday. Earlier in the day, in an op-ed in USA Today, the governor blasted the federal government for its “incompetence” in the fight against Zika.
“This $25 million is a step forward for research and development in order to find a vaccine, but we still need the federal government to do their part to fully fund this mission,” Scott said.
“While I hope the federal government will recognize the dire importance of developing a vaccine and immediately pass funding, we will continue to allocate every available resource from the state. I look forward to seeing research partners across Florida come together to help combat the Zika virus and ensure our state is safe.”
Scott said his office would release more details about the vaccine program “in the coming days.”