The world is in a rush to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus outbreak.
This deadly virus has already left serious marks in different parts of the world, with Latin America leading the way. Global firms such as Japan’s Takeda and France’s Sanofi have already kick-started research programs into this lethal virus. And while the world is still waiting for an announcement to come from major countries, India has already put one leg into this fight.
Bharat Biotech, an Indian firm, has already submitted two candidates for the Zika vaccine, making it the first firm in the world to do so. This is great news for the Indian pharmaceutical industry, but it still remains unknown whether the world will accept any of these vaccines considering past experiences with regulatory agencies such as U.S. Food and Drug Administration with respect to Indian-made drugs.
Millions already infected with Zika virus
The outbreak of Zika virus is being traced back to South America’s Brazil starting from April 2015. According to the latest reports, already millions are infected in Latin America. The worst part of this outbreak is that the potential to spread globally is very high.
While the virus has no significant harm to adults, it is known to cause adverse effects to babies. Zika is linked to neurological birth defects where children are born with a small brain. This is also known as microcephaly. Bharat Biotech began works on this virus back in 2014 thanks to a similarity between the early-stage clinical features of Zika infections, and chikungunya and dengue. These are two mosquito-borne infections India has been trying to fight for quite some time.
The Indian firm has now filed a patent for a Zika virus vaccine and at the moment, it is still in pre-clinical tests. The firm will then test the vaccine on animals before running tests on humans.
Bharat Biotech has two Zika vaccines
As mentioned earlier, Bharat Biotech has filed a patent for two Zika vaccine candidates. According to the company, there is one vaccine that makes use of DNA strands of the Zika virus where the body is stimulated to prepare itself against the real virus, but this one doesn’t always work.
In the second vaccine, the Zika virus is introduced into the body in its inactive form, but it can still trigger the immune system. According to experts, this second vaccine has a better chance of success as opposed to the first.
Zika is spread by a bite from an infected Aedes mosquito. This same mosquito is responsible for India’s over 13,000 cases of chikungunya in 2014 and another 100,000 cases of dengue this just concluded 2015. However, in rare cases, the virus can be spread through sexual intercourse. The first such case was reported by the U.S. on February 2.
As mentioned earlier, it is not known whether the world will accept these vaccines. The process might even be delayed further through tests as well as approval by local and international regulatory bodies, which could take years.
The question is how vast will the Zika virus be by the time the first vaccine is approved? With the current rate, it will be all over the world.