A city-based vaccines and bio-therapeutic manufacturer in India, Bharat Biotech, claims to have achieved a breakthrough in developing a potential vaccine to fight the dreaded mosquito-borne Zika virus, which allegedly causes serious birth defects in children.
Zika virus has become a new terror in the world with no possible solution in sight. Bharat Biotech harbors some of the most brilliant minds in the world and they started working on the Zika virus vaccine about a year ago.
Krishna Ella, CMD Bharat Biotech, said
“We believe we have an early mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file for global patent for Zika vaccine candidates.
“We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible.
“We have two candidate vaccines in development. One of them is an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals,” Ella said.
Quoting a report from WHO, he said Zika is now present in 23 countries and Brazil, the hardest-hit country, has reported around 3,530 cases of the devastating birth defect called microcephaly which is strongly suspected to be related to Zika.
The Zika virus is mainly spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which can breed in a pool of water no matter how small the water is. These mosquitoes usually bite during the day.
However, there has been a reported case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in the United States of America.
The Zika infection is related to Dengue, Yellow Fever and West Nile virus.
“Considering that women of child-bearing age and pregnant women are the prime target group for Zika virus vaccine, we consider safety as the overriding factor in the development of a new vaccine for this virus. This puts into consideration the fragility of pregnant women.”
In the words of Dr Sumathy, Director, R&D, Bharat Biotech:
“The vaccine methods developed early on, before the devastating consequences of the epidemics in Brazil came to light, provided us a push to accelerate vaccine development.”
The world will welcome this vaccine with open arms as it will save a lot of lives from the deadly virus.
However, Ella made it clear that it could take at least two years to launch the Zika vaccine, provided that the government takes a very strong stand on fast regulatory approvals after declaring a national emergency.
“In the normal course, it takes 78 years for the vaccine to reach the market. We don’t mind giving the technology to Brazil or some other countries and partnering with them. In fact, we are asking the PMO to use vaccine diplomacy,” said Ella