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Claim from Hyderabad of world’s first Zika vaccine

In this Jan 30, 2016 file photo, Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly and screams uncontrollably for long stretches, is attended to in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil
In this Jan 30, 2016 file photo, Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly and screams uncontrollably for long stretches, is attended to in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil

HYDERABAD, Feb 4, (Agencies): At a time when scientists and drugmakers are trying to formulate a vaccine for the Zika virus, scientists from a Hyderabad laboratory have claimed that they have developed the world’s first vaccine against the virus. According to NDTV, the scientists have developed two vaccines using a live Zika virus imported officially.

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials have expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Bharat Biotech International Limited in Hyderabad told NDTV that they have patented the vaccine. “On Zika, we are probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago,” said Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech Ltd.

According to Dr Ella, the Hyderabadbased lab can make one million doses of the vaccine in four months and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been requested to help fast-track the process “cutting through the red tape of regulatory clearances”. “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 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 WHO report, 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, in 2015 that are strongly suspected to be related to Zika. “We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible said. “Considering that women of childbearing age and pregnant women are the prime target group for Zika virus vaccine, we consider safety as the overriding factor in development of a new vaccine for this virus. 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,” Dr Sumathy, Director, R&D, Bharat Biotech said.

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