Zika, Ebola among topics experts discuss at Duke

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DURHAM, N.C. – Scientists, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and those that fund research came together today at Duke University to talk about fighting infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola.

The free public symposium, titled “Alliances and Incentives in an Era of Outbreaks” focuses on incentives to ensure future global availability of vaccines and medicines for these and other infectious diseases.

A lot was learned from the experience with Ebola that should help in fighting Zika. They’ve been talking about the Ebola outbreak and how different groups partnered together to speed up finding a vaccine.

“I think the difficulty with Zika is that the scientists and the physicians don’t know a lot of the properties of the disease and the organism pathogen yet,” said Julie Barnes-Weise/visiting associate professor of the practice in the Sanford school of public policy at Duke. “So they’re still not quite sure how to address it, what kind of platforms do you even use.”

Experts say they hope a Zika vaccine could be developed in the next couple of years. But the normal vaccine development takes six to seven years. The current Ebola vaccines are only being used in emergencies. The first candidate for an Ebola vaccine won’t be submitted to the FDA until 2017.

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