Concerns over clinical trials with pregnant women could delay a Zika vaccine
In early Feb. 2016, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency with the Zika virus "spreading,explosively" across Latin and South America. And its apparent link to microcephaly, a serious birth defect that leaves babies with smaller heads and brains, means pregnant women have the most to fear from Zika.
But even though the race is on in the scientific community to find a Zika vaccine, the prospect of clinical tests involving pregnant women raises some serious concerns.
Dr. Peter Hotez, one of the world's leading experts on the Zika virus and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine Baylor College of Medicine, says safety concerns for drug tests on pregnant women will prolong the search for Zika vaccine. He estimates it is possible a vaccine could be created in about two years but not in time to be used for this round of infection.
Clinical tests involving pregnant women raise some important ethical issues.
Françoise Baylis, a Canada research chair in bioethics and philosophy at Dalhouse University, is calling for pregnant women to be included in clinical trials at a later stage in the clinical testing process and thinks the pharmaceutical needs of pregnant women are not addressed thanks to the current industry standard of excluding them from testing.
This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.