Bioethics Blogs

WHO plans for millions of doses of Ebola vaccine by 2015

Posted on behalf of Declan Butler.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced plans on 24 October to produce millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines by the end of 2015.

The Ebola virus has caused about 5,000 deaths in West Africa during the current epidemic.

US NIAID

Hundreds of thousands of doses should be available to help affected countries before the end of June, the WHO said at the conclusion of a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Vaccine makers, high-level government representatives and regulatory and other bodies gathered to discuss the design and timing of planned clinical trials, as well as issues of supply and funding for mass vaccination programmes.

Phase I trials of two vaccine candidates have started, and as many as five other vaccines could begin testing by 2015, says Marie-Paul Kieny, WHO assistant director-general for health systems and innovation.

As of 19 October, Ebola had infected almost 10,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and killed around 5,000 of them, the WHO estimates. The true figures are probably higher, as many cases go unreported. With no end to the epidemic yet in sight, a working vaccine could be a game changer.

First clinical trials under way

The two vaccines whose production will be increased are already in early-stage testing in healthy volunteers. One is a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine containing a surface Ebola protein (ChAd3), developed by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It is being tested in the United States, the United Kingdom and Mali.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.