Hyderabad: A state of confusion is prevailing among health officials in Telangana State (TS) government who say that there is no directive from the ministry of Health and Family Welfare at the Centre regarding the Zika virus.
With no directive, officials say that action at the ground level in terms of screening at airports, procurement of testing kits from World Health Organisation (India) and also general alerts to counsel travelers are not being done.
A senior health officer said, “A notification from the government of India to the state has still not been received. We are only being given guidelines issued by the Indian Medical Council to raise general awareness among passengers. But action at the ground level, in airports, regarding screening of passengers has not been properly chalked out.”
While the Central health and family welfare ministry has decided to follow the pattern of checking which was implemented during the Ebola threat in the year 2014, about two years back, the health officers from the Telangana State government say that proper responsibility has to be fixed for the same.
While the Institute of Preventive Medicine is in charge of these aspects, officers say that till the orders are received they will not be able to draw up a plan of action.
Companies racing to curb the virus
There is a race among pharma firms to develop a vaccine to contain the virus.
The closest vaccine prospect so far may be from a consortium including US biotech company Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which could potentially have a vaccine ready for limited emergency use before year-end. Developers of this vaccine candidate have suggested that their vaccine may be available for human testing by the end 2016.
A global health emergency has been declared by the World Health Organisation following increased reports of the virus.
At present, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. On February 2, French firm Sanofi launched a project to develop a vaccine against the devastating epidemic . Drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur is one of those using its expertise in developing vaccine for similar viruses such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and, most recently, dengue to combat the threat.
Another firm, GlaxoSmithKline has said it is in the process of concluding feasibility studies to evaluate if its vaccine technology is suitable. With Zika emerging as a global outbreak, there is a race among pharma firms to develop a vaccine to contain the virus