Gene Drives and Vector-Borne Diseases: A Comparative Perspective Using Malaria as a Case Study

S. Todi,  The Takshashila Institution,  2023.

Gene drives are an emerging technological application to reduce the prevalence of vector-borne diseases, crop pests, and non-native invasive species. This method for vector control is currently at the research stage, with parallel community engagement programmes being carried out in African countries to raise awareness for its adoption. Yet, the risks associated with using gene drives may go beyond the communities they are deployed in. Hence, it is critical for India to understand the relevance of gene drive application in India and its neighboring countries to create effective policy measures for achieving control of vector-borne diseases. Using malaria as a case study, we argue that India currently does not require the use of gene drives to achieve control of mosquito-borne diseases. However, India should invest in research for gene drives and vaccines, while continuing with current efforts to curb vector-borne diseases. Further, India will need strong data monitoring systems to identify if any gene drive mosquitoes deployed by other countries make their way to India.

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