Zika Virus: Which Company Will Win The Race For A Vaccine?

As the Zika Virus continues to rapidly spread, companies and even independent scientists race to create a vaccine. Zika Virus began with a presence in only 14 countries across the Americas, but now the mosquito-borne virus has been discovered in nine other countries just two weeks after the epidemic was first announced.

Although the Zika Virus is so abundant, some countries are in more danger than others. Recently, 3,700 cases of infants born with birth defects, a direct cause of the mother’s exposure to the Zika Virus, have occurred in Brazil, according to Reuters. Acknowledging that Brazil is hard-hit by the ever-spreading Zika Virus, some scientists are explaining what a vaccine can do for the people of Brazil. Dr. Alexander Precioso of the Butantan laboratories was among them in a recent interview about the health of Brazilian babies.

“Basically the majority of the population is susceptible to the Zika virus, so we are expecting to have many cases. That’s why vaccine is such an important intervention in terms of preventing the disease.”

In San Paulo, Brazil, the city health department sprays to kill mosquitoes and larvae carrying the Zika Virus. [Image via Victor Moriyama /Stringer/Getty Images]

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the city health department sprays to kill mosquitoes and larvae carrying the Zika Virus.
[Image via Victor Moriyama /Stringer/Getty Images][/caption]

In Brazil alone, millions of mosquitoes carrying the Zika Virus still exist, making the need for a Zika vaccine more urgent. Unfortunately, it is estimated that finding a vaccine that prevents the virus and is not flawed could take 10 years. This is because, according to Dr. Precioso, scientists must fully understand the properties of the Zika Virus and the species of mosquitoes that carry it.

“Once we know exactly what the relationship is between the Zika virus and microcephaly, we will be in a better situation to know if a vaccine or a treatment will be available within a certain period of time.”

Both North and South Americans have already begun to see financial opportunity in the misfortunes of Brazil and other countries. Recently, stocks in pharmaceuticals companies have been on the rise and three major companies in particular have caused allure due to their reported Zika Virus research.

On Friday, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi became the largest pharmaceutical markets. Inovio alone jumped 15.6 percent to $ 6.68, while GlaxoSmithKline rose 1.6 percent to $41.29 and Sanofi surged 1.7 percent to $41.64, in light of the potential Zika Virus vaccine. The question is, are Americans investing prematurely?

Many more scientific leaders have addressed the time needed to create the Zika Virus vaccine and it won’t be anytime soon. Many of those investing in major pharmaceutical companies see a big profit, but likely not in this decade. Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke on the reality of the progress in producing a vaccine for the Zika Virus.

Scientists in Brazil research mosquito species that carries the Zika Virus. [Image via Victor Moriyama / Stringer/Getty Images

Scientists in Brazil research mosquito species that carries the Zika Virus.
[Image via Victor Moriyama / Stringer/Getty Images[/caption]

“It is important to understand that we will not have a widely available safe and effective Zika vaccine this year, and probably not even in the next few years.”

While the world awaits the Zika Virus vaccine, a list of 23 countries in which pregnant women should be cautious has been released. The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control are attempting to act swiftly in alerting expecting mothers by considering the Zika Virus epidemic a worldwide health emergency. Among the 23 countries affected, Brazil, Venezuela, and Columbia have seen the largest amount of infants with birth defects.

With the knowledge that the Zika Virus has crippled Brazil, Health Minster Marcelo Castro admitted honestly that the country was being destroyed by the virus “hands down.” Columbia and Venezuela have growing Zika Virus cases, and without the proper government involvement to stop the spread, the world is left wondering: How far will the Zika Virus reach?

Based on the current 23 countries infected, and the short amount of time in which the Zika Virus has spread, all of Latin America, the Caribbean, and even the Southern tip of the United States has cause to fear the Zika Virus.

[Featured image via Mario Tama/Getty Images]