U.S. Launches ‘Full-court Press’ for a Zika Vaccine
The United States is pushing to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, a top health official said Thursday, as doctors warn that the mosquito-borne disease, which causes birth defects in infants and is typically found abroad, has become a growing threat in the U.S.
“I’ve made it clear that we want to put a full-court press.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview. “I’m saying, ‘Folks, this is it, all hands on deck for Zika, this is really important.’ We are rapidly pushing.”
In addition to vaccine development, Fauci said better testing and more research into how the virus works are top priorities. Until recently, Fauci said, researchers hadn’t been focused on Zika, since the severe risks to infants were not seen in such great numbers.
“Zika has been a relatively inconsequential virus as far as we were concerned in the United States or even globally,” said Fauci, whose group is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “However, we have been working for some time, intensively and quite successfully, on viruses that are very similar.”
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