Divulgação, Notícias

British scientists study Zika virus evolution in Latin America

The article published on Science Magazine show there are more questions than answers about the disease


The team concluded that the outbreak could end by itself within two to three years, due to a phenomenon called herd immunity

Researchers Public Health School from London Imperial College recently presented a study assessing the transmission speed of Zika virus in Latin America. To them, the virus relation to microcephaly has required fast answers by authorities, who took several decisions among many uncertainties. The research was recently published on Science Magazine.

The reason for the virus fast propagation in the continent is still unknown. The climate, population, sanitary conditions and the transmitting insects genetic difference are some of the hypothesis pointed by the researchers. Due to the increase of the microcephaly cases and other severe congenital anomalies, the World Health Organization has declared world health emergency, this February.

To understand the contamination process, the British created a mathematical model based on prior dengue and Zika experiences in Latin America. With it, the team concluded the outbreak could reach an end by itself within two or three years, due to a phenomenon called herd immunity – what happens when the virus meets a barrier, since it cannot infect the same person twice.

A similar statement was made by North-American Scott Halstead, interviewed by Science in March. According to the report, when 80% of the population is contracts the virus, there is immunity and the transmission is blocked. The experts theory is supported by the history of chikungunya infection in Thailand during the 1960s. According to him, in 1975 there were no reports of the disease in the Country.

Supported by this theory, the group believes the governmental programs can increase the outbreak period instead of combatting the virus. This happens because while delaying the transmission, the population will take longer to develop the called herd immunity, necessary to block it. According to the text, the efforts to restrain Zika should have begun before it started advancing, needing more advanced studies.

Vaccines against Zika have started human trials. The announcement was made by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in the USA, in early August. However, the British do not believe the current outbreak could be controlled, only mitigated.

Still according to the article, the zika outbreak is a severe public health issue, as was the Ebola. Researchers believe there are many gaps to be filled and only through a coordinated global research effort all questions will be answered.…