Ebola attack: Vaccine too late for outbreak

Date: 17 Mar 2016 | Leave a comment

UK pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline says its Ebola vaccine will "come too late" for the current epidemic. GSK is one of several companies trying to fast-track a vaccine to prevent the spread of Ebola in West Africa. But Dr Ripley Ballou, head of GSK's Ebola vaccine research, said full data on its safety and efficacy would not be ready until late 2015. The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 9,000 people have been infected and more than 4,500 have died. Health workers are struggling to contain the spread of the virus, which is mostly affecting people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The WHO has warned there could soon be 10,000 new cases a week. Leading experts who have previously tackled Ebola believe the only way to contain the outbreak is with a vaccine. Prof Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, first discovered Ebola in 1976. He is worried that the outbreak could last well into next year. "Then only a vaccine can stop it, but we still have to prove that this vaccine protects, we don't know that for sure," he said There are several vaccine trials under way. The Public Health Agency in Canada has started human testing, and a Russian project is planning to do the same. At GSK's vaccine research laboratories outside Brussels, they are trying to compress trials that would normally take up to 10 years into just 12 months. They have already given the vaccine to volunteers taking part in the trial in Africa, the US - where they are working alongside the National Institute of Health - and the UK.


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