Zika virus: vaccine to be tested later this year
So far there is no drug protection against the dangerous Zika virus, which has been spreading in countries in South and Central America for months. As the Brazilian Ministry of Health now reports, a vaccine against the pathogen is to be tested this year. It will certainly not be available until the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Virus spreads in Latin America
The dangerous Zika virus has been spreading in countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean for months. In sick people, the infection triggers symptoms such as fever, headache, joint pain and rash. According to scientists, the pathogen can also cause skull malformations in newborns if the mothers were infected with Zika during pregnancy. In so-called microcephaly, children are born with an unusually small head, which usually leads to brain malformations and intellectual disabilities. Vaccination against the virus is not yet available. But something could change soon.
Vaccine will be tested on animals this year
In recent months, numerous research institutions have been working to improve strategies against the virus. It was recently reported that US medical professionals developed a simple but accurate Zika test. And now it is said that Brazil and the United States are making faster progress than expected when developing a vaccine against the Zika virus. According to a message from the dpa news agency, the first tests on monkeys and mice are due to start in November. The Brazilian Minister of Health Ricardo Barros said that it was initially expected to take twelve months before the first tests, but will now be able to do it in nine months. "This is a record time."
Zika is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes
According to the information, it was agreed in February that the University of Texas and the Evandro Chagas Institute in the northern Brazilian state of Pará would jointly develop a vaccine against the virus. The pathogen is primarily transmitted through the bite of certain infected mosquitoes. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) writes on its website: "Zika viruses are in most cases caused by the bite of infected mosquitoes, e.g. the yellow fever mosquitos (Aedes aegypti), which are widespread in the tropics and parts of the subtropics. “It is now known that the virus can also be transmitted through sex.
Special precautions for Olympic games
According to current planning, the vaccine should be administered as a single dose and be available by 2018 at the latest. According to the dpa, the Brazilian Ministry of Health supports the development with 10 million reais (around 2.5 million euros). Brazil had even used the military against the dangerous Zika mosquitoes. Since October there have been 1,384 confirmed cases of skull malformations (microcephaly) in babies - 207 of them have been diagnosed with Zika infection. In South American winter, the activity of the mosquito species Aedes aegypti is far less than in summer, but special precautions are taken for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (August 5-21). For example, a record number of free condoms is provided in the Olympic Village with 450,000 pieces. (ad)