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India Among 5 Zika Vaccine Developing Nations: WHO

India is one of the five countries where zika vaccine development is underway, said World Health Organization’s Director-General Margaret Chan briefing the media on Tuesday in Geneva. In all 23 projects have been initiated by 14 vaccine developers in the US, France, Brazil, India, and Austria said Chan hoping that the vaccine will be used to protect pregnant women to fight the virus. It also transmits through sex, said experts.

More than 30 companies are working on developing the zika virus, said WHO and it may be noted that Hyderabad-based pharma research company, the Bharat Biotech International Limited had announced earlier that it has developed the Zika virus and could be the first to develop one, pending clinical trials."On Zika, we are probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago," Krishna Ella, Managing Director of Bharat Biotech told media earlier, pitching for vaccine diplomacy among the BRICS nations.

Using a live Zika virus imported officially, the biotech major has developed two candidate vaccines pending animal and human trials but sought the government and WHO’s support to make the process faster. The WHO, in February, had declared the Zika virus outbreak as an "international public health emergency" with presence in 38 countries and territories.

The WHO has estimated that at least some of the projects will move into clinical trials before the end of this year, but it may take several years before a fully tested and licensed vaccine is put in circulation. The first appearance of Zika was in the Western Hemisphere in May 2015, when Brazil confirmed that a "mysterious outbreak" of thousands of cases of mild disease with rash was caused by the Zika virus.

In July, the country then reported an increase in cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), followed by an unusual increase in microcephaly among babies born in October. "The possibility that a mosquito bite could be linked to severe fetal malformations alarmed the public and astonished scientists," Chan said.

"The association with Guillain-Barre syndrome and other severe disorders of the central nervous system has expanded the risk group well beyond women of child-bearing age. We now know that sexual transmission of the virus occurs," Chan said.

In the current outbreak, Brazil and Panama have reported microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than normal and even Colombia has reportes several cases of microcephaly.

[tags, zika virus, india vaccine, who approval, who nod, vaccine diplomacy, BRICS, microcephaly, new born babies, small brain, deaths, pregnant women]

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