HYDERABAD (News Desk) – Scientists at an Indian laboratory claim they have developed the world’s first vaccine against the Zika Virus.
The World Health Organisation has declared Zika and its suspected link to birth defects a global health emergency. More than 20 countries in Latin America have reported an outbreak and a rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex has been reported in Texas, USA.
As the world searches for a vaccine and other global companies take first steps on research, the Bharat Biotech International Limited in Hyderabad says it has patented the Zika vaccine, NDTV reported on Wednesday.
“On Zika, we are probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago,” said Dr Krishna Ella, company’s Chairman and Managing Director.
Using a live Zika virus imported officially, the Hyderabad company has now developed two candidate vaccines, but taking them through animal and human trials could be a long haul.
Dr Ella said he had sought the government’s support on this and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)has stepped forward to help.
Dr Ella said in a best case scenario his company can make one million doses of the vaccine in four months. He has sought the direct intervention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the vaccine’s development and delivery is fast-tracked, cutting through the red tape of regulatory clearances.
He pointed out that the vaccine can help countries such as Brazil, a fellow member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group, the country hardest hit by Zika.
The virus has been reported in more than 30 countries and linked to microcephaly, in which babies have abnormally small heads and improperly developed brains.
Brazil, which has 3,700 suspected cases of microcephaly that may be linked to Zika, is scheduled to host the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.