Pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, which could arrive as soon as in two years. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc are among the companies working on developing a vaccine for Zika because to the potential of its demand, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Although the Zika virus does not prove life-threatening, the virus has been linked to Gullain-Barré Syndrome and is known to lead to congenital birth defects, including microcephaly.
In the United States alone, a total of 3,625 cases of the virus were reported as of Sept. 28 (59 of the cases were locally acquired and 3,565 were associated with travel), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It scares people,” University of Texas virologist and chairman of the Zika task force for the Global Virus Network, Scott Weaver, told Reuters. “Europeans and Americans can pay a pretty high price for these kinds of vaccines.”
Three experimental vaccines for the virus tested successfully on monkeys, as far safety and protection, by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and at Harvard’s Beth Israel Hospital, NBC reported earlier in August.
Getting a vaccine to market could cost a pretty penny, however. The price for creating and securing the approval needed for the vaccine could fetch as much as $1 billion, according to Chief Executive Manon Cox. That cost could be significantly higher without government funding, Cox predicted.
The question stands – who is winning in the vaccine arms race?
Protein Sciences Corp has created a vaccine for the virus, and the privately held company already has partnerships with companies in Japan, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, Reuters reported. Human trials are slated to begin by January.
Sanofi was given $43 million by the U.S. government to create a potential contender using an attenuated virus. Human trials are predicted to commence next year.
“We’ve got the technologies, infrastructure, experience dealing with regulators in this field,” head of research for Sanofi’s vaccine unit, Nick Jackson, told Reuters. “All of that gives us a jumpstart.”