Zika is an arboviral illness caused by infection with the Zika flavivirus. Transmission most commonly occurs during a feeding event involving an infected mosquito or vertical transmission between an infected mother to her fetus. Infection outcomes range from asymptomatic to devastating neurologic injuries in children infected in utero. The recognition of Congenital Zika Syndrome prompted the declaration of an international health emergency and a call to rapidly develop medical countermeasures such as vaccines and therapeutics. A flurry of research and development activity in industry, government, non-governmental organizations, and academia during the most recent Zika epidemic (2015) stimulated the development of a number of vaccine candidate prototypes, generation of pre-clinical data, and the conduct of early phase human trials. The safety and immunogenicity of different vaccine platforms were demonstrated and mouse and non-human primate passive transfer studies hinted at the potential for clinical benefit in humans and defining an immune correlate of protection. A rapid decline in regional transmission, however, prevented the conduct a clinical endpoint efficacy trial. The pathway to licensure of a Zika vaccine remains unclear.
About The Expert
Stephen J Thomas