A human vaccine to guard against the Hendra virus, which recently caused the death of an Australian veterinarian, may be 15 years and one billion dollars away, the renowned scientist Ian Frazer tells Australia's News.com.au.
But halting the spread of the virus doesn't have to rest with a human vaccine. The rare virus is transmitted from bats to horses and then passed to humans via blood and mucus. With so few cases to review and given the difficulty of developing a vaccine for humans, a remedy for horses seems the most practical preventive approach, says Frazer. According to the Professor, it would cost around $2 million to develop a vaccine and "several tens of millions of dollars" to run clinical trials with horses.
Of the seven people diagnosed with Hendra since its discovery in 1994, four have died from the infection. Thus far, the virus has not been found outside of the state of Queensland. Health officials there say Australian and U.S. researchers have already begun exploring the development of a vaccine. "In the meantime, we have been ... looking at a number of ways we may be able to prevent and control the virus," said Queensland Health spokeswoman Dr. Christine Selvey.