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UB researcher looks at the long road to a Zika vaccine

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While public researchers scramble to deal with the threat of the Zika virus, one local expert believes finding a vaccine will take a long time.

"Safety is a foremost consideration," said UB's Dr. Thomas Russo, professor of medicine working in microbiology and immunology.

Russo believes it might be a year before scientists know the genetic structure of Zika or potentially several variants so that an actual vaccine can be worked on. He says that might change as doctors get a better handle on the public health effects and where the mosquitoes which carry the virus are active.

"If it turns out that the only health concern is primarily in pregnant women and if we're going to consider them the target population, then the rigor (of testing) has to be exponentially even greater."

Russo says it might be a year before scientists know the genetic structure of Zika or potentially several variants so that an actual vaccine can be worked on. He says that might change as doctors get a better handle on the public health effects and where the mosquitoes which carry the virus are active.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.