The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is in the verge of undertaking trials for the indigenously developed vaccine against Zika virus. It must be noted that few cases of Zika virus infected incidents have been reported in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Hydrabad-based Bharat Biotech, which has developed the vaccine, claims that the vaccine is going to provide protection against infection caused by Zika virus strain (both Asian and African origin).
“The company had developed the vaccine around two years ago. At that time we did not have an outbreak of Zika in India as it was only restricted to Latin America. “Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito and also there is a breakout in some states. Vector control is one of the most challenging work. Thus the vaccine, if its efficacy is proved, is a better strategy,” and official of the ICMR revealed.
“Yes, we are in dialogue with Bharat Biotech, but the approval is not in place yet. It has to go through the drug controller too. In any case, the trial will happen only next year. This year, the cases are almost over,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The virus has infected 127 people, out of which 40 are pregnant women. In India, the first outbreak of the Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district in July 2017. However, both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
The Zika virus, transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain. It is harmful for pregnant women, as the mother can pass the infection to her foetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth leading to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than normal.
The disease is under surveillance of the Union Health Ministry since then though it is no more a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the WHO notification.