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Governments Plan to Transform Anti-Dengue Vaccine into Anti-Zika Vaccine

02/23/2016 - 09h41

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FABRÍCIO LOBEL
EDUARDO GERAQUE
FROM SÃO PAULO

The federal government and the state government of São Paulo plan to take advantage of a Dengue vaccine that is in the final stages of testing to create a single immunizer -that, in addition to preventing the four strains of the illness, would be anti-Zika.

The plan was revealed on Monday (22) by President Dilma Rousseff and members of Geraldo Alckmin's (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) management team, at the event where the federal government allocated US $ 25,000 for the third and final phase of testing of the vaccine against Dengue developed by the Butantan Institute of the state government.

Ale Vianna/Eleven/Folhapress
A presidente Dilma Rousseff e o governador do Estado de São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) durante cerimônia de assinatura de contrato entre o Ministério da Saúde e do Instituto Butantan para o desenvolvimento da vacina da dengue.
Governor Geraldo Alckmin (L) and President Dilma Rousseff at the event in São Paulo.

The Butantan Institute began researching the vaccine against Dengue in 2008 -and the expectation is that it will be applied in 2018.

Federal support for its development only came amidst the global repercussions of the advance of the Zika virus, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same vector seen in Dengue.

Previously, financial support came from the São Paulo government, BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank) and Fapesp (São Paulo Research Foundation). Antes, havia financiamento do governo paulista, do BNDES e da Fapesp (Fundação Paulista para Pesquisas).

However, according to the experts, the all-in-one vaccine must undergo independent tests and could take even longer than predicted, even with the advantage of the parts already acquired from vaccine tests against Dengue.

In 2015, the Dengue epidemic hit a record, with 1.6 million cases.

The Zika outbreak drew attention worldwide, especially because of its possible link to the rise in cases of microcephaly (a brain malformation in newborns). Since October, 508 cases have been confirmed and another 3,935 are under investigation.

Butantan's Dengue vaccine passed the phases 1 and 2 (to determine the safety of the product) and will be tested on 17,000 volunteers (to measure efficacy).

The president of the Butantan Institute, Jorge Kalil, says that if the blend is not well-received a new vaccine will be developed, separate from the one against Dengue.

Translated by SUGHEY RAMIREZ
Read the article in the original language

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