Home News Science&Tech Subsidy for vaccine against the Rift Valley fever granted

Subsidy for vaccine against the Rift Valley fever granted

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A research department at Wageningen University receives 12.5 million dollars from an international organization to produce a vaccine against rift valley fever. Its efficacy and safety for humans must be tested.

Rift valley fever is an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes high mortality among livestock and can also be dangerous for humans. The disease, named after the Rift Valley in Kenya where the infection first appeared, is prevalent in Africa and on the Arabian peninsula.

The money comes from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a partnership of public, private and philanthropic organizations that was established in Davos in 2017. The CEPI has since invested $ 380 million in the development of fourteen candidate vaccines, one of which is now against Rift Valley fever led by Wageningen Bioveterinary Research.

In an epidemic of Rift Valley fever, mortality among cattle can rise to many tens of percent. People are mainly infected by contact with the blood or organs of infected animals. But the virus can also be transmitted via a bite from a mosquito that itself has been infected by poking an infected animal. Experts are concerned that the virus can also be transmitted from person to person by the yellow fever mosquito. Rift valley fever is fatal for around one in 100 infected people.

Previous research from Wageningen University has shown that native Dutch mosquitoes are capable of transmitting Rift Valley fever virus. Vaccines already exist that can be used to vaccinate cattle against the disease. With the $ 12.5 million, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research will now investigate the efficacy and safety of a similar vaccine for humans.

Mosquitoes and people

The diseases against which the fourteen CEPI-funded vaccines are under development have in common that they are virus infections that can spread from person to animal and sometimes also from person to person. Different types of mosquitoes play a crucial role in this. Due to climate change, the conditions for all kinds of mosquitoes that previously only existed in (sub) tropical regions are also favorable in traditionally colder regions.

This means that the attention and research funding in the rich West for such diseases has recently increased considerably compared to when they were still diseases of poor countries. Last month, the Netherlands Center for One Health received a subsidy of ten million euros for research into mosquito-borne infectious diseases.

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