Indian Biotech Firm Claims to Have Developed First Vaccine Against Zika

A team of scientists from India have claimed to have formulated the world’s first vaccine against the much-dreaded Zika virus. The announcement, made by a team at Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited, comes close on the heels of the World Health Organization declaring the Zika virus an international emergency. Interestingly, the scientists claim to have two vaccines against Zika.

The virus is currently creating havoc in over 20 Latin American countries, forcing healthcare agencies to take severe measures against its spread. In the meanwhile, in Texas, United States, reports are emerging about a case where the Zika virus is suspected to have been sexually transmitted.

Major companies worldwide are clamoring to find a vaccine against Zika but with the Indian company laying claim to the first such vaccine, this could well be a shot-in-arm for the ‘Make in India’ campaign. Researchers at Bharat Biotech International Limited say tht they have patented the vaccine nearly nine months ago. The company’s chairman and MD, Dr. Krishna Ella, said that they are “probably the first vaccine company in the world” to have filed a patent for a candidate vaccine against Zika. The researchers have developed the vaccine by officially importing the virus.

While the development of two candidates is undeniably good news, it is the animal and human trials that could take several months now. For this purpose, the company has reached out to the Indian government for support so that the vaccine can be cleared without facing too many bureaucratic hurdles. Reportedly, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will be helping the biotech company in its endeavor.

Reports in the media quoted ICMR director general, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, as saying that the ICMR had been notified of the vaccine candidate for Zika and that the organization would study the “feasibility of taking the vaccine forward.”


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