Brazil says it expects to develop vaccine for Zika virus in a year

Aedes Aegypti mosquitos are pictured in a jar at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Insect Pest Control Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria.
Aedes Aegypti mosquitos are pictured in a jar at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Insect Pest Control Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria.PHOTO: EPA

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil expects to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus in about a year, Health Minister Marcelo Castro and Dr Pedro Vasconcelos, a doctor at the Evandro Chagas Institute of Infectious diseases, told a press conference on Thursday (Feb 11).

They announced a partnership with the University of Texas and Brazil pledged US$1.9 million to the effort over the next five years.

Mr Castro said the vaccine could be developed in a year or so, more quickly than originally expected, though that did not mean it would be ready at that time for widespread application.

Brazil, worst hit in an outbreak of Zika that is rapidly spreading in the Americas, is investigating a potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

However, scientists have not proven that Zika can cause microcephaly.