Zika Vaccine Claim: Is it a Hope or Hype?

Zika Vaccine Claim: Is it a Hope or Hype?

Zika Virus - Symptoms and Precautions

Zika Vaccine Claim: Is it a Hope or Hype?

A biotech company based in India has made a “breakthrough” claim that it has developed two “candidate vaccines” to combat Zika virus –being hailed as a product that is ‘Made in India’. However, it has unsettled some virologists, reports claim.

The managing director of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, Krishna Ella, made an announcement last week that his company is perhaps the world’s first company to secure a “global patent” for its vaccines against the virus, which is believed to cause birth defects and neurological issues and is creating peril in Brazil and other South American nations.

The company began working on the vaccines last year using “live” Zika virus. However, despite repeated requests neither Ella nor the company’s spokesperson divulged the fact that when and where the company got this virus from.

Kalyan Bannerjee, who is a well-known virologist and ex-director of the National Institute of Virology in Pune, a premier laboratory under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that it’s stupendous how the said laboratory managed to get the live virus, especially when there is no evidence of isolation of Zika virus from the Indian subcontinent.

Aedes Aegypti, the species of mosquitoes, are present in India in abundance and are responsible for the spread of Zika virus in other countries.

Reports further revealed that the vaccine developer did not adopt any standard procedure while importing the live Zika virus whose possible danger to newborns compelled the World Health Organization on February 1 to announce a global emergency.

Other than maintaining silence in revealing the source of the virus used to make the vaccine, the company has refused to disclose the details about the global patent it claims to have applied for in July 2015.

Even though this Indian company started quite early the development of Zika virus vaccine even when it appeared too trivial for any country to bother about, the experts report that introduction of a Zika vaccine into the market is still years away. Moreover, no monkey model exists till date to draw comparisons with candidate vaccines and so human trials will have to be performed in endemic nations such as Brazil, not in India.