The virus is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on
Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well.
No vaccine has been developed so far.
One of the possible vaccines is "recombinant", which means it is
created by genetic engineering, while the other was "inactivated",
and will enter pre-clinical trials in animals in two weeks, Bharat
Biotech managing director Krishna Ella told Reuters.
An inactivated vaccine is created by killing a pathogen in a way
that its ability to replicate is destroyed, but the immune system
can still recognize it.
Bharat Biotech's announcement came a day after France's Sanofi said
it had launched a project to develop a Zika vaccine. On Wednesday,
Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical also said it was
investigating the possibilities of developing a vaccine for the
Privately held Bharat Biotech, based in the southern town of
Hyderabad, said it started work on the Zika virus a year ago, while
developing vaccines for chikungunya and dengue. Zika is closely
related to dengue and is spread by the same species of mosquito.
Bharat Biotech sells its vaccines for polio, hepatitis B, H1N1 and
rabies, among others, to more than 65 countries, according to its
"They've got a lead, essentially ... it's certainly not a vaccine
yet," said Soumya Swaminathan, the Director General of the Indian
Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body for biomedical
research in India, funded by the health ministry.
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Swaminathan said it was premature to comment on the two vaccine
candidates, but the ICMR had put together a group of experts to
examine their validity.
No cases of the virus have been detected in India yet, but the
health ministry on Tuesday issued guidelines on the disease,
including an advisory that travel to affected countries be postponed
(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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