Geneva: Thousands of experimental Ebola vaccine doses from British GSK and US NewLink should be ready for use by early 2015 in countries affected by the epidemic, the World Health Organisation said today.
"If everything goes well, we may be able to begin using some of these vaccines in some of the affected countries at the very beginning of next year," said WHO assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny.
There is no licenced treatment or vaccine against the virus that has killed nearly 3,000 people in West Africa, and the UN health agency has endorsed rushing through experimental treatments and vaccines.
WHO is especially focusing on two experimental vaccines, one made by British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the other by US group NewLink Genetics, and is working with both companies to accelerate clinical trials, Kieny said.
Some clinical trials have begun in the United States, and others are set to begin in Mali next week, she said.
The agency has already said that, if found to be safe, some doses should be available for use to healthcare workers by November and wider use could be possible early next year.
The Canadian government has already donated 800 viles of the NewLink vaccine to WHO, and Kieny said thousands of doses would likely be available in coming months.
Around 10,000 doses of the GSK vaccine should also be available by then, she said.
"This is not a vaccine, this is a candidate vaccine," she said, pointing to the need for showing great caution in rolling out the vaccines more broadly.
The two candidate vaccines "have given very promising results in monkeys, but monkeys are not humans," she said.
Another experimental vaccine by US company Johnson & Johnson had not been ruled out, but "they are clearly behind by a few months," Kieny said.