Sanofi has come up with a project to create a vaccine against the Zika virus. The is the most decisive commitment so far by any leading vaccine producer to battle the disease associated with multiple birth defects in Brazil.
On Tuesday, the French drugmaker said that its Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division has decided to utilize its expertise in creating vaccines for similar viruses like yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and, the dengue most recently.
The move has been taken a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus as an international public health emergency because of its association with underdeveloped brains in a number of babies.
These kind of emergency declarations are the WHO’s way to mobilize resources and coordinate action for battling a disease. On Monday, the organization’s Director-General Margaret Chan said that one of the priorities was the development of a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Research head of Sanofi Pasteur, Nicholas Jackson, who is leading the new Zika vaccine project, said, “Sanofi Pasteur is responding to the global call to action to develop a Zika vaccine given the disease's rapid spread and possible medical complications”.
According to Sanofi, its established research and industrial infrastructure for its latest licensed dengue vaccine can be rapidly leveraged to quicken speed recognition of a Zika vaccine candidate.
Until now, the only groups that have solid plans of developing a Zika vaccine are small biotech companies and academic institutions, though GlaxoSmithKline has said that it has been concluding feasibility studies for the evaluation of the fact that whether its vaccine technology is suitable or not.
Presently, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, because the disease, until lately, hasn’t been seen a grave public health concern.