An Indian pharmaceutical company from Hyderabad may be the first to develop a vaccine against the mosquito-borne Zika virus, of which there has been a fresh outbreak in south America. Bharat Biotech, bio-therapeutic manufacturer, on Wednesday claimed to have achieved a breakthrough in developing a vaccine to fight the dreaded virus, which causes serious birth defects in children.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Krishna Ella, CMD Bharat Biotech, said that they began work on the virus about a year ago.
"We believe we have an early mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file for global patent for Zika vaccine candidates," he said.
"We have two candidate vaccines in development. One of them is an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals."
The Zika virus is in active transmission in south and central America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is now present in 23 countries as per WHO, and Brazil is the hardest-hit where at least 3,530 cases resulting in serious birth defect have been reported.
"We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible," he said.
Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which can breed in a pool of water as small as a bottle cap and usually bite during the day. The mosquito-transmitted infection is related to Dengue, Yellow Fever and West Nile virus.
About the Zika virus:
- Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
- In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil.
- Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.
- Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how the virus will spread over time.
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