The federal government is launching an investigational human trial of a Zika vaccine, health officials announced on Wednesday.
The National Institutes of Health announced that at least 80 volunteers will test a new Zika vaccine. The trial, which will take place at three locations in the U.S., will test the safety of the vaccine as well as its ability to generate a response from the volunteers’ immune systems.
The trial volunteers will be separated into four groups of 20 people. All of the people in the trial will be vaccinated, and the groups will receive either one or two additional vaccinations a few weeks later. After they are vaccinated the people will remain at the clinic to be watched for at least 30 minutes so the researchers can see how they respond. The men and women will record their temperature and any symptoms they have while at home.
The men and women will also undergo follow-up visits where their blood will be taken to measure how their body is responding to the vaccine.
The findings from this trial are expected to be available by January 2017, and if the results are positive, the NIH will move forward on another trial in countries where the virus is spreading.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the NIH department that developed the Zika vaccine, used a similar approach to develop another investigational West Nile virus vaccine.
The NIH reports that there are over 6,000 Zika cases in the continental U.S. and U.S. territories. Recently it was discovered that there is ongoing local Zika virus transmission in a neighborhood in Florida.
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