World Health Organization Pronounces Zika Virus As International Emergency
After a hurried special convention of health experts, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally declared the recent alarming upsurge of Zika virus in the Americas as an international health emergency.
The alarming spread of mosquito-borne infections has been linked to a number of neurological birth defects including the dreaded microcephaly.
Although delegates to the emergency WHO meeting agree that the virus is not clinically deemed as a serious infection, the experts, nevertheless , have been compelled to declare the virus as such given the 'extraordinary' nature of the infection that appears to have already spread like wildfire in the Caribbean and Latin America.
"I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster [in] French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes a public health emergency of international concern," remarked WHO Director General Margaret Chan as quoted saying by the Voice of America News.
According to the Press of Atlantic City, the emergency convention of global health experts was triggered by an anomalous coincidence of the rise of Zika infections with the dramatic increase of cases of babies born with neurological disorders such as microcephaly.
In separate but related development, the French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur officially announced that it will start to work on the development of anti-Zika virus vaccine after receiving calls for help.
The drugmaker has been credited for creating the world's first vaccine for another mosquito-borne dengue virus which bears a number of similar characteristics with its Zika cousin.
In an official statement, Sanofi Pasteur said that its recent success with the newly developed anti-dengue vaccine "can be rapidly leveraged to help understand the spread" of Zika and "potentially speed identification of a vaccine candidate for further clinical development," as quoted by the News & Observer.