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WHO: Ebola Vaccines Ready in 2015      10/24 09:56

   LONDON (AP) -- The World Health Organization says millions of doses of two 
experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more 
experimental vaccines will start being tested in March.

   Still, the agency warned it's not clear whether any of these will work 
against the deadly virus that has already killed over 4,800 people this year in 
West Africa.

   Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny from the U.N. health agency told reporters that those 
doses could be available in 2015 if early tests proved that the two leading 
experimental vaccines are safe and provoke enough of an immune response to 
protect people from being infected with Ebola.

   Trials of those two most advanced vaccines ---one developed by 
GlaxoSmithKline in cooperation with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the 
other developed by the Canadian Public Health Agency --- have already begun in 
the U.S., U.K. and Mali.

   "The vaccine is not the magic bullet. But when ready, they may be a good 
part of the effort to turn the tide of this epidemic," Kieny said.

   If early data from the ongoing tests are promising, larger trials testing 
the vaccines in West Africa could begin as soon as December, Kieny said; 
previously the trials weren't starting until January.

   GSK said it might be able to make about 1 million doses of their vaccine per 
month by the end of 2015, assuming that some logistical and regulatory hurdles 
can be overcome.

   Kieny also said five other possible Ebola vaccines should start being tested 
in March, but she gave no details about who is making them or where, or where 
those five vaccines would be tested.

   In an indication of how the rising spread of Ebola is upending many attempts 
to halt this year's outbreak, Kieny said plans were changing "week to week" as 
governments, health agencies and donor countries tried to speed up efforts to 
fight the deadly virus.

   Kieny said even if the Ebola outbreak was slowing down by the time many 
vaccine doses were available, it would still be useful to start a stockpile for 
future Ebola outbreaks.

   She said some details about getting the vaccines to West Africa had yet to 
be worked out, including who would pay for immunization campaigns --- which 
weren't planned to start before June at the earliest. Kieny said the charity 
Doctors Without Borders pledged to create a vaccine fund and other 
organizations, including the World Bank, might help buy the vaccines.

   She also acknowledged that, given the speed at which these experimental 
vaccines are being rolled out, "there will certainly not be as much known in 
terms of their safety as would be normal." Kieny said Britain had proposed 
creating a fund that would offload liability from pharmaceutical companies in 
case any bad side effects emerge from the shots.

   In Brussels on Friday, the European Union and its 28 member nations managed 
to create a 1 billion-euro ($1.26 billion) fund to fight the Ebola outbreak.

   Britain's contribution of 205 million pounds ($329 million) was the largest 
among the EU nations.

   "Helping West Africa to cope with the crisis is the most effective way to 
prevent a serious outbreak of the disease elsewhere," the EU leaders said at 
the end of a two-day summit. "The scale of the epidemic is a threat not only to 
the economy and the stability of the affected countries, but also to the region 
as a whole. "

   In Beijing, China's president pledged to provide $81 million in aid to help 
fight Ebola.   


(KA)


 
 
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