Mosquitoes are the planet’s deadliest animals

Mosquitoes kill more people than all other animals combined.¹ One species, Aedes aegypti, spreads dangerous viruses such as dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya. These pathogens infect millions of people every year.²

Aedes aegypti and Dengue range (2015), world map

Fighting mosquito-borne diseases

Inside the Debug mosquito lab

Our innovative solution

Using advanced technology to rear and release incompatible male mosquitoes that reduce the mosquito population

Combining Verily’s scientific and engineering expertise, with the help of international partners, we’re raising and releasing “good” mosquitoes at scale to reduce “bad” ones that spread disease.

The basics: Our good bugs are male mosquitoes raised with a naturally-occurring bacterium called Wolbachia which makes them unable to have viable offspring with wild female mosquitoes. These good bugs can’t bite or spread disease, and they stop the bad ones from reproducing. 

When good bugs are introduced to high-risk areas with lots of bad bugs, you’ll see fewer and fewer bad mosquitoes over time.

Our proprietary method

To stop mosquitoes that can spread disease, we need to raise millions and millions of incompatible male mosquitoes. In response, our team of engineers and scientists built automated rearing systems that can raise good bugs at scale to suppress the wild mosquito population. 

 

Male mosquitoes can’t bite, so they don’t spread disease. That’s why we separate the males from the females before releasing them. Debug technologies combine algorithms and novel engineering to take advantage of unique aspects of mosquito biology to quickly – and accurately – sort males from females.

 

Image: Sorting mosquitoes in our proprietary system

Sorting mosquitoes in our proprietary system

Producing real results

>95%

Suppression of female mosquitoes in release areas as compared with control sites (in California, USA) across three communities over six months3

>90%

Reduction of female dengue mosquitoes across the first four release sites (in Singapore). Residents living in areas with at least one year of mosquito releases were up to 77% less likely to be infected with dengue.4

>80%

Suppression of female mosquitoes across all release areas as compared with control sites (in Australia)5


Partnering to prevent disease with scientists, communities and governments

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FAQs

Sources
  1. Fighting the World’s Deadliest Animal. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 17, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/stories/2019/world-deadliest-animal.html#:~:text=Spreading%20diseases%20like%20malaria%2C%20dengue,home%20and%20around%20the%20world
  2. Dengue and severe dengue. The World Health Organization. Updated March 17, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dengue-and-severe-dengue
  3. Adapted from: Kraemer MU, Sinka ME, Duda KA, et al. The global distribution of the arbovirus vectors Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Elife. 2015;4:e08347. Published 2015 Jun 30. doi:10.7554/eLife.08347; Bhatt S, Gething PW, Brady OJ, et al. The global distribution and burden of dengue. Nature. 2013;496(7446):504-507. doi:10.1038/nature12060
  4. Beebe NW, Pagendam D, Trewin BJ, et al. Releasing incompatible males drives strong suppression across populations of wild and Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti in Australia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021;118(41):e2106828118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2106828118
  5. Data source. Verily contributed to mosquito releases at one of the four sites since 2018 (source)
  6. Crawford JE, Clarke DW, Criswell V, et al. Efficient production of male Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes enables large-scale suppression of wild populations [published correction appears in Nat Biotechnol. 2020 Aug;38(8):1000]. Nat Biotechnol. 2020;38(4):482-492. doi:10.1038/s41587-020-0471-x