Drugmakers globally are racing to produce a vaccine for Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to severe birth defects.
The World Health Organization has warned the disease is spreading explosively through the Americas and declared a global emergency. But, companies and scientists have made clear that a vaccine for public use is, at the very least, some months away.
Here is a list of drugmakers and the progress they have made so far to develop a vaccine.
- Sanofi SA: The French drugmaker said its Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division would use its expertise in developing vaccines for similar viruses such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and, most recently, dengue.
- GlaxoSmithKline plc: The British drugmaker said it is concluding feasibility studies evaluating whether its vaccine technology is suitable for the virus.
- Intrexon Corp: The U.S. synthetic biology company’s unit said that a genetically modified mosquito has helped reduce the proliferation of mosquitoes spreading Zika.
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc: The company is working on a vaccine for the Zika virus with GeneOne Life Sciences, a South Korean biopharmaceutical company, and said the first stage of human tests for a vaccine could begin as early as August.
- Replikins: Currently a privately held vaccine, the company will start tests on mice and rabbits by the second week of February and expects developer to glean data from the study over the next couple of months.
- Takeda Pharmaceutical Ltd: Japan’s leading drugmaker is already developing a vaccine for dengue fever and looks into the practicalities of a vaccine for Zika, which belongs to the same virus family.
- Pfizer Inc: The company is currently analyzing its existing vaccines portfolio to see where it might be able to play a role.
- Johnson and Johnson: The company told Reuters it is currently evaluating if any of its available technologies unit could be directed to address Zika.
- Merck & Co Inc: The company has said it was working with public health partners to see how its expertise could be useful.
- Newlink Genetics Corp: Ebola vaccine developer Newlink said it is initiating a project to develop new treatment options.
- Sementis Ltd: The University of South Australia and Sementis are working together to develop a vaccine.
- Geovax Labs Inc: The company said it has begun a program to develop a vaccine using its novel MVA-VLP vaccine platform.
Interestingly, the Indian pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech claims to have developed the world’s first vaccine against mosquito-borne Zika virus, saying that it has already filed for a patent for the Zika vaccine.