Wageningen Univ. gets $12.5 million to find vaccine for mosquito borne virus

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Babies will be called for extra vaccination for measles.

Wageningen University received a subsidy of 12.5 million euros to create a vaccine against the mosquito borne virus Rift Valley Fever that is safe for humans. The subsidy comes from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), NOS reports.

Rift Valley Fever is an infectious disease that causes high mortality among livestock and can also be dangerous for humans. The disease, named after the Rift Valley in Kenya where it first appeared, is prevalent in Africa and on the Arabian peninsula. People are mainly infected by contact with the blood or organs of infected animals. But the virus can also be transmitted through a bite from a mosquito that has been infected by biting an infected animal. Experts are concerned that the virus can also be transmitted from person to person by the same mosquito that transmits yellow fever. Rift Valley Fever is fatal for around one per 100 infected people. 

Previous research by Wageningen University showed hat mosquitoes that are native to the Netherlands are capable of transmitting the Rift Valley Fever virus. There is already a vaccine to protect cattle against the disease. With the 12.5 million dollar subsidy, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research is tasked with investigating the effectiveness and safety of a similar vaccine for humans.

CEPI is a partnership of public, private and philanthropic organizations that was established in Davos in 2017. Since then CEPI invested 380 million dollars in the development of 14 vaccines, including the Rift Valley Fever vaccine led by Wageningen University. All fourteen vaccines are against virus infections that can spread from animal to person and sometimes also from person to person, usually through mosquitoes. Due to climate change, colder regions increasingly have favorable habitats for mosquitoes that previously only existed tropical and sub-tropical regions. 

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