More Pharmaceutical Companies Join Search For Zika Vaccines, Diagnostics; Researchers Say More Samples, Data Needed From Brazil

Associated Press: Health officials want more Zika samples, data from Brazil
“Brazil is not sharing enough samples and disease data to let researchers determine whether the Zika virus is, as feared, linked to the increased number of babies born with abnormally small heads in the South American country, U.N. and U.S. health officials say. … [I]t is technically illegal for Brazilian researchers and institutes to share genetic material, including blood samples containing Zika and other viruses…” (Cheng et al., 2/4).

International Business Times: Is There A Vaccine For The Zika Virus? Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Are Exploring Developing One
“Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co. have added their names to the growing list of pharmaceutical companies looking into developing a vaccine for the Zika virus, Reuters reported Wednesday. French drugmaker Sanofi said Tuesday that it has started working on creating a vaccine, while Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals said it had a team investigating such a project…” (Whitman, 2/3).

International Business Times: As Zika Virus Spreads, Gaps In Diagnostic Testing Present Opportunities For Drug Companies
“… ‘It’s a good environment for generating the incentive needed to invest in diagnostics,’ Josh Michaud, an associate director on the global health policy team at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said of the Zika virus outbreak. ‘You have global attention focused on this. You have what appears to be rapid spread of the virus’ across both middle and high-income countries across the Americas, he pointed out. ‘That is a recipe for greater investments — and probably return on investments for research — into diagnostics’…” (Whitman, 2/3).

Quartz: An Indian biotech company has been developing Zika vaccines for over a year
“…Bharat Biotech … has become the first in the world to have two vaccine candidates against the rapidly spreading Zika virus, which has infected millions of people in Latin America and has the potential to spread worldwide…” (Karnik, 2/4).

Wall Street Journal: India and the Search for a Zika Virus Vaccine
“…Still, possible vaccines have to pass through rigorous screening for safety and efficacy. Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research, which oversees clinical trials in India, said testing would take two to three years…” (Bhattacharya, 2/4).

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