The first large-scale trials of a vaccine against the Zika virus is at least 18 months away, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said Friday in Geneva.
Two vaccines that are being developed by the US National Insitutes for Health and by the Indian company Bharat Biotech are currently the most advanced among the 15 Zika vaccine projects that are underway in several countries, said deputy WHO chief Marie-Paule Kieny.
"Diagnostic tools will be developed much more quickly than vaccines," she told reporters.
Tools for quick diagnostic tests would be available within weeks, she said.
WHO has declared a global health emergency over the rapid spread of Zika in the Americas, as the outbreak has coincided with an increase in head and brain malformations among newborns, especially in Brazil.
Scientists are also still searching for medicines to treat the mosquito-borne virus, which results in mild fever and rashes in most patients.
Studies are underway on the use of prophylactic medicines to prevent infections in vulnerable groups, especially pregnant women, Kieny said.
"This seems for the moment a more viable and faster option than a curative treatment," she added.
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