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ICMR to carry out attempts with domestic developed Zika vaccine

The Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) will soon conduct attempts with the domestic-developed Zika virus vaccine, reported in Madhya Pradesh,…

The Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) will soon conduct attempts with the domestic-developed Zika virus vaccine, reported in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The ICMR will conduct phase II testing of the vaccine to determine the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine together with its adverse effects, said a senior official.

The vaccine producer, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has developed a vaccine that they claim provides protection against infection caused by an Asian Zika virus strain as well as by the African Zika virus strain, the official said.

“The company had developed the vaccine about two years ago. At that time, we did not have an outbreak of Zika in India because it was only limited to Latin America. Zika virus is spread to humans primarily by bit of an infected Aedes art mosquito and there is also a breakout in some states. Vector control is one of the most challenging work. Thus, the vaccine, if its effect is proven, is a better strategy, “said the official.

Regulatory Approvals

The process of approval of permission to conduct the trial will begin soon, he informed. Two people who tested positive for the Zika virus died in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal district while the number of people suffering from the disease has crossed 1

20 in the state. The deceased – an 18-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman – suffers from the virus and other “serious” diseases. Therefore, it can not be said that they died because of Zika, officials had clarified.

The virus has infected 127 people, of which 40 are pregnant women, officials said.

People have tested positive for the Zika virus in seven districts of Madhya Pradesh. This includes 44 cases reported from Bhopal, 20 from Sehore, 29 from Vidisha, two each from Sagar and Hoshangabad, and one from Narsinghpur and Raisen.

A central team is investigating the situation and helping the Madhya Pradesh government to replicate action and the action plan was implemented in Jaipur and Ahmedabad to contain the disease, the official said. Rajasthan has reported 159 cases of Zika infections.

In India, the first outbreak of the Zika virus in Ahmedabad was reported in January 2017 and the second in the Tamil Nadus Krishnagiri district in July of the same year. Both of these outbreaks were successfully integrated through intensive monitoring and vector management.

Latest Outbreak

During the latest outbreak of the virus in the country, the first case occurred on September 22 when an 85-year-old woman tested positive for the virus in Jaipur. Since then, the number of Zika cases has increased to 153 in Rajasthan.

In Madhya Pradesh, intensive screening is conducted and vector control measures have been intensified. The government has also issued a consultancy for district administrations to take measures to control mosquito cultivation.

The State Health Department has advised pregnant women not to visit the affected areas.

The Zika virus, transmitted through the aedesgypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain. It is harmful to pregnant women, because the mother can send the infection to the fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth leading to microcephaly, a condition where a child’s head is significantly less than normal.

The disease is under the supervision of the EU Health Ministry, although it is no longer a public health issue of international concern according to WHO’s notification.

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