Updated 05:48 PM EDT, Tue, Oct 17, 2017
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Brazil, Texas Hospitals Sign Agreement to Develop Zika Vaccine within 12 Months

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Brazil and a Texas research hospital have signed an agreement to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus.

The vaccine is expected to be ready for clinical testing within 12 months, Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Castro announced at a news conference on Thursday, the Associated Press reported (via Yahoo! News).

The South American country's government will invest $1.9 million in the study, which will be a joint effort by the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the Evandro Chagas Institute, located in the Amazonian city of Belem, the AP added. The two facilities are both specializing in the research of mosquito viruses.

According to Castro, the Health Ministry has also arrived at vaccine partnerships with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the news outlet further reported. Brazil is also seeking to work with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which developed a vaccine against Ebola after an outbreak killed many in West Africa in 2014.

The Zika outbreak in Brazil has turned into a public health crisis. Researchers believed that the virus, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, can be transferred from an infected pregnant woman to the fetus in her womb, which then leads to the baby having microcephaly. It is a congenital condition where newborns have smaller heads and incomplete brain development.

Health officials in Brazil said that any vaccine for Zika could take as many as five years to be developed. Castro, however, announced on Thursday that they are hoping for a vaccine to be publicly distributed within three years, the AP reported.

Foreign researchers and regulators are set to arrive in Brazil in the coming days. Representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are expected as well. They will hold meetings with their Brazilian counterparts to make sure that the vaccine's clinical testing process will have no delays, the news outlet noted.

The country's Ministry of Health said that health workers and members of the armed forces have paid a visit to 20.7m homes in Brazil, which equals 30 percent of all the nation's private residences, the Guardian wrote. The Ministry believes that 80 percent of the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito are located on private properties.

Health officials advised Brazilians to inspect their properties at least once a week, according to the Guardian. Among the precautions recommended are clearing gutters, upturning bottles, firmly closing trash containers, and sealing water tanks. A hatched mosquito egg takes seven to 10 days to develop into adulthood.

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