Pfizer, J&J, Merck
evaluating technologies for Zika vaccine
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[February 03, 2016]
(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc, Johnson and
Johnson and Merck & Co Inc said they were evaluating their
technologies or existing vaccines for their potential to combat Zika, a
rapidly spreading mosquito-borne disease linked to birth defects.
A number of drug developers and universities are attempting to
produce a vaccine for Zika, which the World Health Organization
(WHO) has declared an international health emergency.
But scientists and experts have said producing a safe and effective
vaccine will take time.
"Pfizer is currently analyzing its existing vaccines portfolio in
response to the Zika outbreak to see where we might be able to play
a role," Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo told Reuters in an
Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd said on Wednesday it had
created a team to investigate how it might help make a vaccine, a
day after Sanofi SA said it would launch a Zika vaccine program.
Meanwhile, the first known case of virus transmission in the United
States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials.
Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson and Johnson's
Janssen unit, said the company is currently evaluating if any of its
available technologies could be directed to address Zika.
"At this stage, it is premature to say how long this might take or
speculate on the outcome," Stoffels told Reuters in an email.
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Merck, which helped develop the first successful Ebola vaccine, said
late on Tuesday it was working with public health partners to see
how its expertise could be useful.
(Reporting by Amrutha Penumudi and Natalie Grover in Bengaluru;
Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
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