WHO: Phase III trial of Ebola vaccine starts in Guinea Saturday

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - Based on promising data from initial clinical trials in late 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday announced the launch of a Phase III trial of an Ebola vaccine starting on Saturday in Guinea, one of the countries' worst hit by the ongoing Ebola epidemic.

WHO announced the proposed trial here, saying it would be conducted jointly with the Health Ministry of Guinea, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Epicentre and The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

The trial will test the 'VSV-EBOV vaccine', developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, for efficacy and effectiveness to prevent Ebola.

“We have worked hard to reach this point,” a WHO statement quoted Director-General Margaret Chan as saying.

“There has been massive mobilisation on the part of the affected countries and all partners to accelerate the development and availability of proven interventions. If a vaccine is found effective, it will be the first preventive tool against Ebola in history,” she said.

WHO said vaccination will take place in areas of Basse Guinée, the region that currently has the highest number of cases in the country, and that the trial strategy adopted will be “ring vaccination”, based on the approach used to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.

This involves the identification of a newly diagnosed Ebola case – the “index case” – and the tracing of all his/her contacts. The contacts are vaccinated if they give their consent.

“The Ebola epidemic shows signs of receding but we cannot let down our guard until we reach zero cases,” said Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny, who leads the Ebola Research and Development effort at WHO. “An effective vaccine to control current flare-ups could be the game-changer to finally end this epidemic and an insurance policy for any future ones.”

WHO said the objectives of the trial are two-fold: to assess if the vaccine protects the contacts who were vaccinated and if vaccinating the contacts will create a buffer - or ring of protected individuals - around the index case to prevent further spread of the infection. Vaccination will also be proposed to front-line workers in the area where the trial will take place.

Canadian governmental institutions are supporting the trial through the provision of critical training and support to the African research teams conducting the trial, in addition to scientific advice.

In the last six months WHO has convened a series of emergency consultations with scientists, ethicists, regulators and policy makers to identify potential preventive and therapeutic products to help stem the epidemic.

Canada’s VSV and GSK cAd3 vaccines quickly emerged as promising tools due to prior successful studies on non-human primates.

This latest outbreak of Ebola has killed over 9,600 people mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
-0- PANA SEG 5March2015

05 march 2015 13:24:58

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