SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian pharmaceutical company Starpharma Holdings Ltd said it is teaming up with world No. 2 condom maker Ansell Ltd to supply Zika virus-proof condoms to the Australian Olympic team ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games.
Starpharma said it is giving the Australian athletes Ansell “Dual Protect” condoms lubricated with Starpharma’s VivaGel product, which it recently said showed near-total antiviral protection against Zika and other viruses in laboratory studies.
“Given sexual transmission of Zika virus is of increasing importance, the potent activity of Starpharma’s VivaGel against Zika could prove very significant,” said Starpharma Chief Executive Officer Jackie Fairley in a statement.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said the Starpharma condoms would be in addition to condoms already shipped to the Olympic village, which will also have free dispensing machines on every block supplying 350,000 male condoms and 100,000 female condoms to athletes.
The AOC dismissed suggestions that athletes returning from Rio should undergo compulsory blood testing. People who follow the recommended precautions have a low risk of Zika and blanket testing “is not aligned with medical or scientific best practice,” it said in a statement.
Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Richard Pullin