The results from the first clinical trials of the proposed new vaccine in the UK show it does produce a response from the immune system. Trials in affected countries are now needed to see whether it is sufficient to protect against the disease. The research will also help determine the appropriate dosage for patients.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:
Britain is a world leader in medical research and the outcome of these DFID-funded trials takes us a step closer to finding a vaccine that could help contain Ebola and prevent future outbreaks.
I would like to thank the volunteers who took part in this important trial. They join thousands of British doctors, nurses, military personnel, scientists and aid workers in the fight against this terrible disease.
The first doses of the vaccine have now been sent to Liberia in preparation for the large-scale trials.
Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said:
We have worked closely with the UK scientific community to speed up the testing of potential vaccines for Ebola and I’m delighted that this vaccine will be rolled out on the ground. Finding safe and effective vaccines will help control this epidemic and make sure we are better prepared to respond in the future.
The trials, which will involve 30,000 volunteers, including health care workers and burial teams, are set to begin in the coming weeks. They will test if the candidate vaccine provides protection against Ebola.
The UK has been strongly supportive of international efforts to speed up the testing of potential Ebola vaccines. The World Health Organization, international governments, vaccine regulators and vaccine producers have worked closely together to ensure that vaccines are available should they be necessary.
The vaccine has been developed by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and the US National Institutes of Health. The UK-based trials were carried out by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute with funding from the UK government, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.
Even as Ebola transmission rates fall, a safe and effective vaccine could help save lives by helping to end the current outbreak earlier. The vaccine could also prevent future outbreaks from getting out of control.