The collaboration is to develop a vaccine for the Nipah virus as it is in the list of epidemic threats that need urgent research.

Nipah vaccine WHO to collaborate with health organisations to draft research roadmap
news Nipah Virus Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 19:04

To tackle the Nipah Virus and to develop a roadmap to do the same, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, with support from the Wellcome Trust, will collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO). This will facilitate the collaborative development of a draft ‘Nipah R&D Roadmap’.

“The research and development will certainly help come up with a vaccine for this disease,” says D T Mourya, Director of Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV).  

As of now, there is no vaccine for the disease.

Nipah Virus is one of the pathogens in the WHO R&D Blueprint list of epidemic threats that need urgent research and development action. According to WHO, the roadmap prioritises the development of countermeasures (diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines) that need to be taken by Nipah-affected countries. It is the result of extensive consultations with the Nipah R&D roadmap taskforce, national and international experts and other key stakeholders, according to WHO.

The first Blueprint list of priority diseases was released in December 2015, and the list was reviewed last in February 2018. The disease’s potential to cause a public health emergency and the absence of efficacious drugs and/or vaccines helps the experts determine if there is an urgent need for accelerated research and development for these diseases.

In the case of the recent outbreak of the Nipah Virus, the death toll as of May 30 stands at 16. Of these, 15 are confirmed deaths. The one death that could not be ascertained with sample verification was that of Mohammad Sadik, the first person to contract the disease.

"The first patient died suddenly and we could not do the test," said Dr Arun Kumar, the head of Manipal Centre for Virus Research.

"The second patient from the same family was admitted on May 17 and we obtained and tested a sample of the patient's body fluids on May 18. Once the results were out, we realised we were dealing with a rare virus. Unfortunately, the second patient died, but an epidemiological link between the two cases was proven," he added.

Speaking to TNM, Kozhikode DMO Dr Jayasree said: “Of the 17 confirmed cases of Nipah, so far 15 deaths have occurred. This number does not reflect Sadik’s death. 2 confirmed cases have been under treatment. As of May 30, the suspected cases stands at 8.”

The Kerala government’s Additional Chief Secretary of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, Rajeev Sadanandan who is also a part of the clinical trial working group of WHO, said, “We have decided that the trial and development work in Kerala, in India, will be coordinated by the Indian Council Of Medical Research and World Health Organization. For trials and research in India, the University of Minnesota is not the leader or the sponsor. It is ICMR and WHO who are coming together for research in India.”

According to the surveillance and outbreak alert issued by the WHO, a multi-disciplinary team led by the Indian government’s National Centre for Disease Control is in Kerala in response to the outbreak.

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