World Bank: Zika to cost at least $3.5B

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The World Bank on Thursday warned that the spread of the Zika virus across Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to cost those regions about $3.5 billion in forgone economic output.

The World Bank is offering $150 million in financing for those countries combating the Zika virus amid growing global fears about the disease.

The funding is nearly three times the amount of money requested by the United Nations’ health arm on Wednesday.

Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) said it needed $56 million to help prevent the spread of the virus, which has been linked to thousands of birth defects in South and Central America.

That short-term funding request would be used to speed up research, vaccine development and diagnostics of the relatively unknown virus. The WHO said the amount would last until June.