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World’s first Zika virus vaccine? Indian scientists claim to have made it


An Indian pharmaceutical company based in Hyderabad on Wednesday claimed that they have developed the first ever method of treatment for the deadly Zika virus.

Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech said two vaccines made by the company are set for pre-clinical testing in animals.

The company in its statement said, “We are probably the first in the world to file for the global patent for Zika vaccine candidates. Out of the two, one is a recombinant vaccine and another inactivated vaccine. The project was initiated a year ago.”

The company boasts of developing path-breaking advancement in producing vaccines for Typhoid, Chikungunya and Rotavirus.

Elucidating about how the company started developing the vaccine before it attracted global attention, Ella told The News Minute, “Since chikungunya and dengue came to India, we expected the other alternative- Zika will also be an issue.”

He also spoke of a little known disease which he says is a ‘sister’ of ZIka which has resulted in many children suffering from paralysis and other neurological diseases in UP. The company is also working in combating the disease.

“We always believed in neglected diseases, because MNCs don’t want to concentrate on neglected diseases, they always want to work on diseases which have a global market potential,” he added.

Speaking about when the drug will be available for clinical use, Ella said, “It’s a long way to go,” stating usually it takes seven to 15 years for a vaccine to be made available to the market but said with intervention from the government, the process can be fast-tracked to a large extent..

The announcement comes just a day after French company Sanofi Pasteur announced that it has launched a vaccine research and development project to target the Zika virus.

We have just been informed about the Zika vaccine candidate that Bharat Biotech has. We will examine it from the scientific point of view and see the feasibility of taking it forward. It is a good example of a Make in India product,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, pediatrician and Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research told NDTV.

Infection of the Zika virus happens when the Aedes mosquito bites a person. Aedes mosquito also transmits the Dengue virus and is found widely in India.

Although there is not a single reported case of Zika in India, India’s Health Ministry on Tuesday issued detailed guidelines, including a travel advisory for pregnant women urging them to either defer or cancel their travel to the areas affected with the virus.

This came after the World Health Organization earlier on Tuesday urged Southeast Asian countries and India to strengthen surveillance and take preventive measures against Zika virus, especially as the mosquito responsible for its spread is found in many areas of the region.

Last week the WHO had held an emergency committee to discuss about the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus in 23 countries of the central and south American region.

Brazil alone possibly has one million cases of Zika infection since last September and there were 4,000 instances of babies born with microcephaly, a birth disorder which has been casually established with the viral infection.

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