The trials for indigenously developed vaccines for Zika virus will be soon conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The ICMR will undertake phase-II trial to establish the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, who developed the Zika virus vaccine, claims that it will provide protection against infection caused by Asian Zika virus strain as well as African Zika virus strain. Cases of Zika virus infection has been reported in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
‘Zika virus causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain in infected adults and microcephaly in infected fetus. The vaccines if proved to be effective can contain the spread of the disease.’
"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," a senior official said. The Zikus virus is known to cause fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain.
The virus has infected 127 people in Madhya Pradesh out of which 40 are pregnant. Rajasthan has reported 159 cases of Zika infections. The first outbreak of Zika virus in India was reported in 2017 in Ahmedabad and the second was in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri district. Both these cases were successfully contained by intensive surveillance and vector management.
In Madhya Pradesh intensive screening exercise and vector control management has been carried out. Pregnant mothers are at high risk to pass the infection to the growing fetus, which leads to microcephaly, a condition where the baby's head is significantly smaller than normal. The state health department has advised them not to visit the affected areas.
Although the Zika virus disease is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the WHO notification, it is under surveillance of the Union Health Ministry.