Developing Zika virus vaccine could take upto five years
Jan 26, Washington: Developing a vaccine for the Zika virus could take up to five years, as health experts called for new incentives for drug companies, researchers have said.
The Zika virus, which is suspected of causing brain damage in babies, is likely to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Zika outbreak is likely follows the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which also caught health authorities off guard.
"We've got no drugs and we've got no vaccines. It's a case of deja vu because that's exactly what we were saying with Ebola," Trudie Lang, a professor of global health at the University of Oxford, told Reuters. "It's really important to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible."
Large drugmakers' investment in tropical disease vaccines with uncertain commercial prospects has so far been patchy, but the pace of the outbreak has demonstrated how quickly little-known diseases can emerge as global threats.
The Sao Paulo-based Butantan Institute, which is currently leading the research charge on Zika, says it plans to develop a vaccine "in record time", although its director has warned this is likely to take three to five years, AL Jazeera report said.
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline also told Reuters on Monday it was studying the feasibility of using its vaccine technology on Zika, while France's Sanofi said it was reviewing possibilities.
Brazil has reported 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the WHO said last Friday, over 30 times more than had been reported in any year since 2010.
The outbreak has prompted El Salvador, Eduador and Colombia to warn women to delay getting pregnant.
The Oslo Times