Indian firm on the brink of developing vaccine to fight Zika virus

(From PTI|Reuters)

Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based vaccines and bio-therapeutic manufacturer, on Wednesday claimed to have achieved a breakthrough in developing a vaccine to fight the dreaded mosquito-borne Zika virus, which causes serious birth defects in children.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and cannot spread between humans

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito

Bharat Biotech is home to some of the most brilliant minds in the world and began work on the Zika virus a year ago, Krishna Ella, CMD Bharat Biotech, said.

“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.

“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,” Ella said.

 “We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible,” he said.

  “Considering that women of child-bearing age and pregnant women are the prime target group for Zika virus vaccine, we consider safety as the overriding factor in development of a new vaccine for this virus. The vaccine methods developed early on, before the devastating consequences of the epidemics in Brazil came to light, provided us a push to accelerate vaccine development,” Dr Sumathy, Director, R&D, Bharat Biotech said.

 Currently, the vaccine maker is focusing towards scale-up and characterization of the vaccine product, Ella said.

Sexually transmitted Zika case

The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite, a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency.

Zika virus lab sample

Zika virus lab sample

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Zika had been thought to be spread by the bite of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, so sexual contact as a mode of transmission would be a potentially alarming development.

Dallas County Health and Human Services said it received confirmation of the case in Dallas from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The county department said on Twitter that the person was infected through sexual contact with someone who had traveled to Venezuela. The person infected did not travel to the South American country, county health officials said. Read more



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