Ebola vaccine trials in West Africa could begin in January: UN

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Thursday said the clinical trials of Ebola vaccine in West Africa could begin by January 2015.

Updated: Nov 07, 2014, 13:12 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

New York: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Thursday said the clinical trials of Ebola vaccine in West Africa could begin by January 2015.

It said the Ebola crisis response needs to scale up, get better and perform faster.

The UN World Health organization (WHO) also said “evidence is mounting that earlier messages about Ebola virus disease having no treatment, cure, or vaccines are no longer entirely accurate.”

WHO cited a number of candidate vaccines were undergoing clinical trials as well as the first clinical trials of therapeutic - possibly curative - transfusions of whole blood or blood plasma from recovered patients that are scheduled to begin soon in Liberia, in line with WHO technical guidelines.

WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, during a three-day visit to Sierra Leone, called upon partners all over the world to work together to address the critical needs of those affected by the health crisis.

WFP has to date provided food assistance to 1.3 million people and is ramping up services to the whole humanitarian effort in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“What I have learned in Sierra Leone is that the international community has made a lot of progress in meeting the needs of the victims of this crisis, but we all have more work to do. We need to scale up, we need to get better, we need to perform faster,” Ms Cousin said.

“We need to ensure that everyone joins together today to make the difference that is required to stop the spread of this deadly disease,” she said.

She also praised the courageous men and women battling the disease on the front lines.

WHO said it welcomed approval by Swissmedic, the Swiss regulatory authority for therapeutic products, for a second Swiss trial with an experimental Ebola vaccine.

“The trial will be led by the University Hospitals of Geneva, If judged safe, larger scale trials will be taken to African countries as early as January 2015, ” WHO said in a press release.

According to WHO, the experimental vaccine will be tested on healthy volunteers, some of whom will be deployed as health care staff in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

“These trials show an almost unprecedented mobilization on the part of countries, health agencies and industry to pitch in and help to curb the Ebola epidemic,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation.

WHO said clinical data analysis supported that patients older than 40 years were nearly 3.5 times more likely to die than those aged less than 40.