Jamaica to Participate in Zika Trials, Supported by WHO

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Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health (Jamaica Information Service)
Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health (Jamaica Information Service)

Minister of health, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says Jamaica will shortly be participating in a number of clinical trials in the drive to find a vaccine to treat the Zika virus.

Addressing a Ministry of Health/Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) parish town hall meeting on July 21, the minister said Jamaica’s participation forms part of an international study and fight against Zika.

Tufton noted that the clinical trials are supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The minister pointed out that the vaccine could become available within a year, but in the meantime, more persons and countries will be affected. He added that once the virus gets to its second phase, less people will be affected.

Tufton also told the gathering that Jamaica is among some 65 countries fighting Zika, and Jamaicans must appreciate the fact that the virus will continue to spread for a while.

“The Zika virus is new and there is no resistance. The immune system has not experienced it and developed the capacity to fight against it. So, when something is new like Zika, it tends to spread faster until you develop some sort of resistance to it,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Tufton said the government is determined to empower citizens to fight Zika through the free flow of information at all levels, and that once persons are informed, they will be better able to tackle the virus.

“The biggest and most significant line of defence to fight this virus is us,” the minister emphasised.

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