HHS diverts $81M to fund Zika vaccine research

HHS has shifted $81 million in funds previously dedicated to other services in order to continue developmental Zika vaccine research. The move comes as local transmission of the Zika virus in Miami continues — Florida Gov. Rick Scott placed the new count of mosquito-transmitted Zika in the state at 25, according to Reuters.

In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the funding was intended to keep Zika vaccine research going in spite of a complete absence of funds from lawmakers, according to Reuters. Congress is still not in session and failed to pass legislation to allocate emergency Zika funds prior to breaking for summer recess. Of the newly diverted funds, $34 million will go to the National Institutes of Health and $47 million will go to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

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According to Reuters, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of the NIH, said the department needed $33 million to conduct human clinical trials for a potential Zika vaccine. Dr. Fauci added that the transfer is not a long-term solution as second and third vaccine candidates will need to be developed to ensure the creation of an effective Zika immunization as vaccine candidates often fall short of expectations.

"We will still need about $196 million more," Dr. Fauci said.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Joint defects in infants linked to Zika infection  
Americans approve of late-term abortions when Zika has harmed the fetus  
FDA approves new Zika genetic test for emergency use

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