Experts will gather in Geneva this week to review progress on possible vaccines against the deadly Ebola virus, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. The international health community is desperately trying to find a vaccine to fight the virus, which continues to rage in West Africa where it has killed more than 8,200 people. Thursday’s high-level meeting will be a follow-up to a conference held in October and will provide an update on the safety and efficacy of the possible vaccines undergoing clinical trials.
Participants, including health officials, vaccine manufacturers and government representatives from the hardest-hit countries will also review available financing to bring promising candidate vaccines to the market. They will also look at ways to ensure the broadest possible access once a safe and efficient vaccine is found. And they will discuss preparations for Phase III efficacy trials in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Libera, which are at the epicentre of the outbreak.
There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola, and the WHO has endorsed rushing potential ones through trials in a bid to stem the epidemic. Human trials have begun on three possible vaccines, with Johnson & Johnson announcingTuesday that its proposed vaccine was being tested on volunteers in Britain. Another experimental vaccine, ChAd3, made by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, is undergoing clinical tests in Switzerland, Mali, Britain and the United States.
A third promising candidate, the VSV-ZEBOV, manufactured by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licenced by US firm NewLink Genetics, is also being tested in the United States, Canada, Germany and Gabon. Tests of VSV-ZEBOV on volunteers in Switzerland were meanwhile briefly suspended late last year over concerns over unexpected side-effects, but resumed this week after the doses being injected were reduced.