As several companies clamor to invent an Ebola vaccine effective enough to overturn the virus’ advances in West Africa, British healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline officially sent its experimental offering to Liberia. When it arrives on Friday, it will be the first Ebola vaccine to reach the disease-ravaged region, reported the New York Times.
Of 30,000 test subjects during the Liberian clinical trial, one third of them will be given the GSK’s ebola vaccines. The shot — a variation of a Chimpanzee cold virus used to “deliver safe genetic material from the Zaire strain of Ebola” — will first be distributed to frontline Ebola medical professionals, as contact with bodily fluids has seen the spread of Ebola to a total of 828 health workers, 499 of whom did not survive, according to World Health Organization data. Liberia, with a total of 307 health worker cases, has registered more infections than both Guinea and Sierra Leone, although Sierra Leone has registered the most total Ebola virus infections.
GSK’s Global Vaccines chief Moncef Slaoui has high hopes that the company’s Ebola vaccine will be a success, reported NYT.
“The initial phase I data… are encouraging and give us confidence to progress to the next phases of clinical testing which will involve the vaccination of thousands of volunteers, including frontline healthcare workers.”
Although WHO has registered several steady weeks of Ebola decline in West Africa, it has recently begun to ask for funding to push the Ebola vaccine and other preventive campaigns further. Best case scenario, say experts, dictates the virus being mostly eradicated within six months. Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO’s Ebola response assistant director-general, is seeking donations from other countries for an additional $260 million budget he says will be necessary to stop Ebola after they run out of money next month, reported Reuters.
“You’re looking at months…it really depends on the progress they can make between now and the wet season. Because if you go into a real wet season with this disease you’re looking at another hard year of work or plus…There tends to be a false sense of security that this is somehow a controllable disease. There is no such thing as Ebola control, it has got to drive to zero… It’s still an incredibly dangerous situation.”
Other possible ebola vaccines are also on the verge of clinical trials, including one from a joint project between NewLink Genetics and Merck, and another between Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic, reported NYT.
[Image via Flickr]