Congressional inaction will disrupt Zika vaccine R&D, officials say

Just as efforts to develop a vaccine against Zika intensified this month, Congress left on vacation without passing a Zika funding bill, potentially delaying vaccine work as the virus’ spread further threatens areas in the U.S.

Partisan politics were mainly to blame for the failure by Congress to pass a $1.1 billion spending bill last week. As a result, Zika vaccine research will be affected, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci told Vox.

Fauci explained that as investigators work to get multiple Phase I studies underway, the NIAID must prepare for Phase II trials, requiring spending at the end of August or early September, Vox reported. But that’s when the current pool of money runs out.

The development comes the same month as the signing of two Zika R&D collaborations between federal agencies and Big Pharma players. On July 6, Sanofi Pasteur paired with the U.S. Army Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and, on July 7, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) inked a deal with the NIH.

Sanofi, in its arrangement, will begin prepping for a Phase II study with technology called Zika purified inactivated virus, or ZPIV, while the NIAID sponsors a Phase I trial. Separately, through its NIH partnership, GSK will begin evaluating technology called self-amplifying mRNA, or SAM, in a project that’ll utilize the pharma’s new Rockville, MD, vaccine R&D hub.

Democratic senators blocked the bill in response to provisions added by Republicans including those limiting Planned Parenthood and reducing pesticide restrictions.

The issue will be at the top of the healtchare agenda when Congress returns in September, Bloomberg BNA said.

- here's the Vox story
- more from Bloomberg BNA

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