Canada will ship 800 vials of an experimental Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization in Geneva on Monday, says the Public Health Agency of Canada.
According to the Canadian government, this is a part of their role as the international coordinating body for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The 800 vials will be shipped via air from Winnipeg to the University Hospital of Geneva in three separate batches, as a precautionary measure.
— Public Health PHAC (@PHAC_GC) October 18, 2014
The WHO will then consult with health authorities from the most affected countries with Ebola outbreak and decide how best to distribute and use the vaccine, while taking into account any concerns related to the use of an experimental drug on humans.
TheStar reported that Dr Gregory Taylor of the Canadian Public Health Agency stated,
“This vaccine, the product of many years of scientific research and innovation, could be an important tool in curbing the outbreak.”
He added, “We will continue to work closely with the WHO to address some of the ethical and logistical issues around using this experimental vaccine in the fight against Ebola.”
Taylor further stated that testing the vaccine on a larger human sample, like health-care workers who are handling Ebola cases in West Africa, would likely be a next step.
According to the WHO, the Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,555 people in West Africa alone.
Canadian authorities have stated that the effects of the vaccine have been “promising” in animals – and it is just beginning to be tested on humans so as to determine how safe the drug is, and the proper dosages that are required to stimulate a person’s immune system into producing the proper antibodies.
Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose stated last Monday that human testing of the experimental Ebola vaccine began in the United States that week – whereby 40 healthy volunteers were tested on with 20 vials, which were then sent to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland.
The Phase 1 trial of the vaccine, known as VSV-EBOV, will determine if it’s safe for humans to use. Previous studies have shown that the vaccine works in primates by preventing an infection when given before exposure to the virus, and by increasing survival chances when given shortly after exposure.
According to health officials, results from the human trial of the experimental vaccine are expected by December.