Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


WHO sees small-scale use of experimental Ebola vaccines in January

26 September 2014, 19:31

Geneva - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it expected to begin small-scale use of two experimental Ebola vaccines in West Africa early next year and in the meantime, transfusions of survivors' blood may offer the best hope of treatment.

WHO is working with pharmaceutical companies and regulators to accelerate the use of a range of potential treatments to fight the disease that has no cure and which has killed 2,917 out of 6,263 people infected in West Africa since an outbreak began in March, a senior WHO official said.

GlaxoSmithKline has begun clinical trials of its vaccine in the United States and Britain, to be followed by a trial starting in Mali next week, while NewLink vaccine trials are about to start in the United States and Germany, said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general.

"If everything goes well again we might be able to start to use some of these vaccines in affected countries at the very beginning of next year, in January. This will not be a mass vaccination campaign, let's be clear about that because the quantity which will be available doesn't make this possible," Kieny told a news briefing in Geneva.

She stressed however that the shots are experimental and have not yet been shown to work against Ebola: "They have given very promising results in monkeys, but monkeys are not humans.

"We could still face a situation where these vaccines would be unsafe in humans or where they would do nothing in terms of protection. So we need to be very prudent."

Data will be collected from clinical trials when the experimental vaccines are being given to healthy volunteers who are then monitored for adverse side effects and to see if the shot elicits an immune response in their blood.

Also read: 135 Boko Haram fighters surrender, "fake leader" dead

Regulators at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday they would begin reviewing data on experimental Ebola medicines to support any decisions made on whether to use them for treating patients.

And the global vaccines alliance GAVI - the world's biggest funder of immunisations for people in poor countries - said in a statement that it was exploring how it could help speed up the availability of any Ebola vaccines that prove effective.

Canada has given 800 vials of the NewLink candidate vaccine to WHO, expected to yield at least 1,500 doses, Kieny said, and the U.S.-based firm is "working very hard to produce a few more thousand doses in the coming months," she said.

GSK has said it hopes to have 10,000 doses of its experimental vaccine by the end of this year.

Kieny said an experimental Ebola vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson but not yet ready for trials in humans is also under consideration.

ZMapp doses by year-end

Experimental Ebola drugs including compounds from Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Sarepta and Tekmira will be tested in affected states for the first time in a bid to fast-track trials, the Wellcome Trust said on Tuesday.

WHO is taking part in that effort, Kieny said. "We are starting to discuss with African sites to see which would be the most suitable to test these new drugs and establish as soon as possible which one gives an advantage for survival to patients."

ZMapp has been used to treat several Ebola patients who have since recovered, but doctors cannot say for sure whether the drug helped them or whether they would have recovered anyway.

"In terms of ZMapp, the best as we have known for a few weeks now, is that maybe a few hundred doses will be available by the end of the year. But clearly this is not the kind of scale that can have impact on the epidemic curve," Kieny said of the drug by the California-based private biotech firm.

The use of blood transfusion and infusion of human serum from Ebola survivors is recognised as a "safe treatment", but donated blood must be screened for infections including HIV and hepatitis, she said.

There was only anecdotal information on its use in Ebola-infected healthcare workers, as there is no system in place.

"Will it be efficacious? For the time being we don't know because there are not enough people who have been treated," Kieny said, adding that they could be counted on two hands.

"This is something where the African population doesn't have to wait for anybody else to develop it for them. This is why there is a lot of enthusiasm," Kieny said. (Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva and by Kate Kelland in London, editing by Kate Kelland and Susan Fenton)

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...