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Experimental Ebola vaccine to arrive in Geneva

Two health workers in Liberia disinfect themselves after helping patients suspected of having picked up Ebola into an ambulance Keystone


This content was published on October 20, 2014 - 10:27
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing to receive more than 1,000 vials of an experimental vaccine to fight the Ebola epidemic. 

Canada will start shipping the drug on Monday; it should be stocked at Geneva University Hospital by Tuesday. 

In August, Canada said it would provide the WHO with 800 vials, each containing two doses of the experimental vaccine VSV-EBOV, developed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. 

Asked why the delivery was being made so late, hospital spokeswoman Agnes Reffet said that it wasn’t an easy drug to ship. 

The vaccine will be stocked at -80 degrees Celsius. The Canadian government said it would send the vials in three separate air deliveries – just in case there was an accident or the cooling system failed. 

Promising results 

In tests on monkeys, the WHO identified two promising experimental vaccines: VSV-EBOV, whose commercial licence is held by the American company NewLink Genetics, and a vaccine produced by British company GlaxoSmithKline. 

Human trials are set to begin in Switzerland by the beginning of November, according to Reffet. These would be carried out by the Geneva University Hospitals, which the Swiss government has also tasked with caring for employees of international aid organisations who have been infected with Ebola during field missions. 

Clinical trials on the NewLink vaccine began in the US last week. The results are expected in December, according to the Canadian government. 

Currently no treatment or vaccine exists for Ebola, which has caused more than 4,500 deaths – mainly in West Africa.

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