Earth & Conservation

Zika Vaccine Currently 'Years Away'

The World Health Organization says a viable vaccine may only come after this current outbreak.

Representatives from a host of global health organizations have gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to address, among other topics, the pressing need for a vaccine for the Zika virus. Some 18 different research groups and companies are working on an effective Zika vaccine, according to the New York Times. However, human trials are still a long way off. After that, a release of a drug could be "years away," said Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director general at the World Health Organization.

Watch More: The Devastating Zika Virus Explained

Health experts are also working on preventative measures and improved diagnostic tests to respond to the virus, which has now spread through 31 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Zika is related to other diseases like dengue and chikungunya, posing a challenge for accurate diagnoses. There's also much to learn about how mosquitoes spread the virus. Researchers are trying to identify which types carry the disease and deciding whether or not to release genetically modified mosquitoes to curb the populations.

To learn more about how the international community defines and responds to pandemics like Zika, watch the video below:

Photo: John Keith

Photo: John Keith