Sydney, May 16 (IANS) Australian Olympic athletes will be given Zika virus-proof condoms for the Rio Games to help fight against the spread of the virus.
Australian pharmaceutical company Starpharma Holdings Ltd. has teamed up with condom maker Ansell to provide Australian Olympic athletes with “Dual Protect” condoms treated by its VivaGel product, which has shown near-total anti-viral protection against Zika in recent lab studies, reports Xinhua.
“Given sexual transmission of Zika virus is of increasing importance, the potent activity of Starpharma’s VivaGel against Zika could prove very significant,” Starpharma chief executive Jackie Fairley said in a statement to the ASX on Monday.
The condoms will be heading over with the Australian athletes as an addition to the 350,000 male condoms and 100,000 female condoms that will be available via free dispensing machines in every Olympic Village building.
“The health and wellbeing of the team comes first,” Australia Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller said.
“Our association with Starpharma will provide extra protection for everyone on the team, and is a common sense approach to a very serious problem we are facing in Rio.”
Health experts last week called for the Rio games to be cancelled in light of the Zika virus that has the potential to become a global catastrophe, a threat larger than authorities are willing to admit.
There are fears microcephaly — the condition caused by Zika virus where babies are bon with shrunken heads and brain damage — could be easily spread by the athletes and some 500,000 tourists when they return from the Rio games to their home countries should they become infected with Zika.