World / Europe

EU releases 10 mln euros for research on Zika virus

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-03-16 00:10

EU releases 10 mln euros for research on Zika virus

A worker uses a laboratory instrument to obtain lactone, which is used by biochemists to develop a possible Zika-repellent clothes detergent additive, at "Grupo Avance" (Advance Group) laboratory in Santiago, March 4, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission announced on Tuesday the European Union (EU) released 10 million euros ($11.1 million) for research on the Zika virus, currently affecting large parts of Latin America.

The most affected country is Brazil, where the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the recent cluster of severe brain malformations in newborns may be linked to the virus.

While the risk of transmission of the Zika virus in the EU is low, there is currently no treatment or vaccine against the virus, and diagnostic tests for infections are not widely available.

The funding comes from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding program, and would go into projects aiming to prove the link between the virus and severe brain malformations reported in newborn children.

If proven, researchers could then move on to combating the Zika virus, including developing diagnostics and testing potential treatments or vaccines.

"A number of EU citizens have returned from the affected areas with the Zika virus. The Commission is carefully monitoring the situation and, as the summer approaches, is working closely together with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, WHO and member states to put in place all necessary measures to ensure that the response to the virus is coherent and well-coordinated," said Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

The funding would also complement a number of other research initiatives currently funded under Horizon 2020 that can aid in the fight against Zika, according to the commission.


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