Zika alert in India, Hyderabad firm claims to have world’s first vaccine

WHO designates the virus as a public health emergency of international concern

GN Bureau | February 3, 2016


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 The union health ministry has sounded an alert for Zika and appointed the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as the nodal agency for investigation of any outbreak of the viral infection in India.

This comes in the backdrop of the World Health Organization (WHO) designating the virus and its suspected complications in newborns as a public health emergency of international concern.

The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, which is also known to transmit infections such as dengue and chikungunya. The WHO has named 22 countries as among those affected. The virus causes microcephaly (little head) in the newborn.

Meanwhile, the world’s first vaccine to treat the pandemic has been developed and it’s been developed by India. Bharat Biotech International Limited- a Hyderabad based firm- has made a giant leap ahead of all of them and successfully developed the vaccine already.

BBIL says that it has already patented the vaccine. Speaking to NDTV, the chairman and managing director of the company, Dr Krishna Ella said, “On Zika, we are probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago.” The firm has developed two candidate vaccines, using a live imported Zika virus. However, the trails on animals and humans haven’t begun yet.

Ella says that he has contacted the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to help with the trials and they have been most cooperative.

Ella said that if all goes well, his firm can churn out 1 million doses of the vaccine in four months. He is all set to seek prime minister Narendra Modi’s direct intervention to expedite the process of fast tracking the vaccine’s development and delivery by skipping regulatory clearances to get the vaccine to the countries that need help including Brazil, where the epidemic first broke.
 

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