The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that the hunt for an Ebola vaccine will show results by December.
If successful tens of thousands of doses could be put to experimental use in West Africa by January 2015.
Clinical trials in Europe, the US and West Africa will be accompanied by a government drive to get the vaccine approved and in use as soon as possible.
Dr Marie Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation, addressed a press conference with the details:
“These trials will start in the coming two weeks. I would say. We expect for chimp adenovirus as well as for the VSV vaccine to have initial results of course. These trials will continue for six months to a year, but to have initial results about safety, to have a choice of a dose level by the end of this year.”
A researcher from GlaxoSmithKline, one of the companies developing a vaccine, expressed doubts over the speed with which it could be safe for use. Vaccine development can take up to 10 years in normal conditions.
There has been some criticism of the time-scale for developing a vaccine to the deadly virus. Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, has placed the blame at the foot of big pharmaceutical companies for their lack of interest in developing such a vaccine. Smaller companies which had been running trials on primates did not have the funding necessary to make a clinical grade product to stage human trials.
The WHO expects 5-10,000 new cases of Ebola per week by early December.
An emergency meeting will be called on Wednesday to review its plan of action.
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