WHO Pools Experimental Ebola Vaccines as Experts Scramble to Beat Virus

WHO Pools Experimental Ebola Vaccines as Experts Scramble to Beat Virus

Oct. 21, 2014
A batch of experimental Ebola vaccine was set to arrive in Switzerland from Canada on Tuesday as researchers scramble to beat the deadly disease that has west Africa in its grip.

GENEVA -- A batch of experimental Ebola vaccine was set to arrive in Switzerland from Canada on Tuesday as researchers scramble to beat the deadly disease that has west Africa in its grip.

Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director general of the World Health Organization, said the 800 vials would arrive by plane Tuesday and be transferred Wednesday to the Geneva University Hospital.

"It's better to keep them in a central pool than to start to spread them around and then to try to keep track of whether of all the mini-stocks we have have been kept at the right temperature," Kieny told reporters.

The vaccine must be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit).

While the trials of both rVSV and ChAd3 are expected to continue for between six months and a year, initial results are expected to allow experts to set a dose level by the end of December.

The goal, said Kieny, is to be able to ship initial supplies to Africa by early 2015.

"There is a very strong movement now from governments of many countries to push as quickly as possible these vaccines into real-world use," she said.

Mass vaccination campaigns were not on the cards yet, she noted.

A key aim is to help guard health workers against Ebola -- some 240 have died so far as they strive to care for desperate patients.

"It's one thing to say we'll vaccinate healthcare workers," Kieny cautioned. "But it's another thing to do it, because this is a very fragile situation in the countries. Politically it's not very stable. There are safety issues, concerns about logistics also. This needs a lot of community mobilization."

By Jonathan Fowler

Copyright Agence France-Presse 2014

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