TIME Zika

Commercially Available Test for Zika Virus Only Weeks Away, WHO Says

Eritania Maria, who is six months pregnant, is seen in front of her house at a slum in Recife
Ueslei Marcelino—Reuters Eritania Maria, who is six months pregnant, is seen in front of her house at a slum in Recife, Brazil, on Feb. 2, 2016.

A vaccine is much further off

A commercially available test for the Zika virus may be just weeks away, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.

Only a select few labs can currently test for Zika and a commercial test would improve the ability of researchers to track the disease’s spread. Ten biotech companies and 10 other companies are at various stages of developing such a test, according to WHO.

“New validated and broadly available diagnostics are urgently needed to step up research, clinical management and surveillance,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general, at a press conference. “Although it is difficult to predict the time for the first commercial and independently validated tests to be available, we are talking weeks and not years.”

Researchers are also developing a Zika vaccine, but they are at least 18 months away, according to Kieny.

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