The Zika virus epidemic was not anticipated, and the world was not prepared. At the beginning of January 2016, a volunteer assembly of industry experts, infectious disease outbreak specialists, academics and thought leaders was assembled to assess current knowledge and provide non-affiliated recommendations. Key findings and discoveries include currently marketed drugs that appear to have anti-Zika virus activity, risks and obstacles to rapid vaccine development, initial epidemiologic analyses, and pragmatic actionable recommendations.
Organized as the Zika Response Working Group, operating under the non-profit Infectious Outbreak Response Group (iORG), these volunteers interviewed public health leaders, performed risk modeling and analysis, developed recommendations, and identified strategies and countermeasures that can be rapidly deployed. Group findings were then summarized as an academic manuscript, and is now being published by PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a leading open-source academic journal. The working group selected PLOS NTDs to insure that the reviewed findings would be immediately available, free of charge, to the world health community.
Governments, scientists and public health specialists are confronted with the need to simultaneously study and understand a new disease, and to develop countermeasures. The Zika virus outbreak is a harbinger of future diseases driven by ecosystem change and global interconnectedness. Efficiently combating this outbreak will demand effort, resources, unparalleled collaboration, and above all, open mindedness in formulating responses. With these principles in mind, the Zika Response Working Group and PLOS NTDs hope that this publication will help facilitate an efficient and coordinated world response to the threat of Zika virus infection and disease.
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Funding: The authors received no specific funding support for this publication. The NANO-ADM has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the US Army Contracting Command - APG, Natick Contracting Division, Department of Defense under Contract No. W911QY-13-C-0010. Research reported in this publication was supported by a UNC Research Opportunities Initiative grant to UNC Charlotte, NC State University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: RWM and JGM are employees and equity holders in RW Malone MD LLC. JH is an employee and equity holder in ioGenetics LLC. JT is an employee and equity holder in Nanotherapeutics, Inc. RRC is an employee of Nanotherapeutics, Inc.
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UPDATE: DELAY IN ARTICLE PUBLICATION: The article, “Zika Virus: Medical Countermeasure Development Challenges,” scheduled to publish March 1 has experienced an unforeseen delay and will not publish on the scheduled date. The new publication date will be March 2. We apologize for the inconvenience.
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