There’s progress in the fight against the Zika virus.
The first human test of a Zika vaccine to protect against the mosquito-carried disease has begun.
“We urgently need a safe and effective vaccine to protect people from Zika virus infection as the virus continues to spread and cause serious public health consequences, particularly for pregnant women and their babies,” says National Institute of Allergy and Infecuous Disease Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. “We are pleased to be part of the collaborative effort to advance this promising candidate vaccine into clinical trials.”
Neutralize the virus
It’s hoped that the Zika Purified Inactivated Virus (ZPIV) vaccine will generate an immune system response to Zika. The experimental vaccine contains whole Zika virus particles that have been inactivated, meaning that the virus cannot replicate and cause disease in humans. However, the protein shell of the inactivated virus remains intact so it can be recognized by the immune system and evoke an immune response. When this vaccine was tested on monkeys it neutralized the virus and protected the animals from the Zika virus.
The first of what are expected to be five ZPIV clinical trials is underway at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research outside Washington, DC. This study aims to enroll 75 people, ages 18 to 49. Over the coming months, similar clinical trials are expected to begin at other locations.
Zika cases continue to be reported
As of November 9th, 4,175 cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the United States. Of these, 139 came from local mosquito bites, 4,035 were acquired during travel outside the U.S. and 1 happened in a laboratory. All of the 139 local cases were reported in Florida. On October 13th the Centers for Disease Control declared an additional, 1 square mile area in Florida’s Miami-Dade County as a Zika zone. A few days later it updated its travel advisory to include that zone.