Feds Closer To Dx Distinguishing Zika From Dengue As HHS Tries To Plug Funding Gap
The US Department of Health and Human Services gave up on getting new funding from Congress in 2016 to fight Zika virus, and instead juggled its budget this week to throw $81m at the Zika vaccine effort. And while there has been headway on a test to differentiate Zika from Dengue, HHS Secretary Burwell told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in an Aug. 11 letter that NIH currently lacks funds to support diagnostics and other Zika priorities.
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Scientists from US FDA and other health agencies are working to develop and rapidly approve tests that can clearly and quickly detect Zika virus from Dengue fever. But without a steady source of funding for countermeasures, progress to fight Zika may slow, even while the emergence of mosquito-borne diseases accelerates, agency officials said.
Agency wanted to move fast, but is now scrambling to pay for Phases I and II trials.
The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) recently granted $4.1m to Hologic to advance development of a blood screen to detect Zika in the blood supply. Also, lawmakers are asking more questions about readiness in the US for detecting emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism-related toxins.