After the World Health Organization declared the spread of the Zika virus constitutes a global public health emergency, Sanofi committed to researching a live vaccine to combat the infectious disease. In doing so, Sanofi became the first vaccine manufacturer to make such a commitment. But such undertakings are not easy and take time. We spoke with Nicholas Jackson, director of research at Sanofi-Pasteur, the drug maker’s vaccine unit, about the effort.
Pharmalot: You have extensive vaccine operations in various countries, including South America, but to what extent was the Zika virus on your radar until this crisis developed?
Jackson: Because of our network of investigators, doctors, and collaborators in Central and South America for our dengue vaccine that was recently licensed, we were aware of Zika last year. The people in these countries drew our attention to Zika, and we began monitoring it through our network … We’ve watched this build over the last few months.