Publication / Source: Originally published on Infectious Diseases Hub (www.id-hub.com)
Authors: Martha Powell, Editor, Infectious Diseases Hub
The race towards a vaccine for Zika virus began after its designation as a Public Health Emergency by the WHO in February 2016. The disease was confirmed to cause neurological complications, specifically in neonates seen when pregnant mothers have become infected, initiating a surge in research and development.
However, this in itself raises some issues around creating a vaccine; for example, safety must be paramount when a key target group is women of child-bearing age, some of whom may already be pregnant. Moreover, in related flaviviruses, such as dengue, it has been demonstrated that sequential infections can be more severe, and questions around the cross-reactivity between Zika and dengue have been posed.
But there are not only challenges – there is also great promise. Yellow fever, another related flavivirus, has a successful vaccine providing lifelong immunity, and the WHO’s pipeline tracker currently highlights approximately 45 projects working towards a Zika vaccine .
In this article, I provide an overview of the current candidates in human clinical trials and how these vaccines are being assessed.