2nd Swiss Ebola vaccine trial underway

The World Health Organization (WHO) applauded last week's approval of a second Swiss trial on an experimental Ebola vaccine.

If the trial goes well, it may be expanded to African countries by January 2015.

This trial's approval by Swissmedic, the Swiss regulatory authority for therapeutic products, will allow the vaccine to be tested on approximately 115 healthy volunteers in Geneva. Some of the volunteers are health care workers who will be exposed to Ebola while working in Africa.

The trial will be run by the University Hospitals of Geneva.

A series of Ebola vaccine trials for two different drugs are ongoing in Switzerland, Mali, the United States and the United Kingdom.

“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,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general for Health Systems and Innovation at WHO said. “If the vaccines prove to be safe and effective, and we move to production and distribution scale-up, this will be the fastest vaccine roll-out we have had in response to a public health emergency to date.”

The VSV-ZEBOV vaccine was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and was based on an animal-borne illness called vesicular stomatitis. The virus was weakened and modified to create a glycoprotein found in Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV) to provoke an immune response to Ebola.

The current trial will run from November to December.

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