KI takes part in vaccine project for Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever
Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever is a life-threatening disease that is caused by a virus of the same family as Ebola and that has a mortality rate of around 30 per cent. The Public Health Agency of Sweden, Karolinska Institutet (KI) and the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA) are now leading a European project to develop a vaccine against the disease.
Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic (CCHF) is caused by a tick-borne virus and was first described in the 1940s in south-west Russia. Today, the virus is found in Russia, eastern and southern Europe, large swathes of Africa, the Middle East and East Asia.
The project, called CCHFVaccine, has been given a grant of EUR 6 million through the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme and includes eleven other partners from Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and the USA.
The virus that causes the disease has been given a risk classification of 4, the highest possible for pathogenic agents, and must therefore be handled at the Public Health Agency’s safety laboratory, which is the only one in the Nordic region in the required class.
“Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, or CCHF, is an extremely serious disease that leads, at worst, to internal haemorrhaging and death for about 30 per cent of the people who contract it,” says researcher Ali Mirazimi, who is heading the work to develop a vaccine. “There is currently no specific treatment for the disease and no vaccine to protect against infection.”