Emergencies preparedness, response

Profile for better Zika tests

WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016, based on the suspected link between Zika virus infection, congenital malformations, and neurologic syndromes. Since then, several developers and laboratories have developed Zika tests, but none that responds to all the characteristics that would make a real difference to the epidemic.

In order to address the limitations and gaps of current diagnostic tests, WHO, along with UNICEF and the Pan Americal Health Organization have led a global public consultation to reach an expert consensus view on the desired characteristics for optimal Zika diagnostic tests. These characteristics together make up the ‘target product profile (TPP).

The TPPs are published today with a brief summary of additional important considerations such as technical challenges to test development and the limits in scientific understanding of the virus at this stage of the Zika response.

The proposed TPPs are the result of an ongoing consultative process with key stakeholders in the public health and scientific communities. It is hoped that they will guide the development of diagnostic products, and that these products, when available, will also help to resolve the scientific uncertainties surrounding Zika virus infection.

As new scientific evidence is generated, these TPPs may require further review and revision.