According to Guardian, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sir Andrew Witty, says he’s hopeful for the potential Ebola vaccine that is now on its way to West Africa. The goal of GSK is to enrol 30,000 people in the first large-scale trials of the vaccine, with Medical/Healthcare workers and others who are at high risk of contracting Ebola in Liberia being given an experimental vaccine as early as next week.
Although the Ebola vaccine was quickly developed, the rapid decline in Ebola cases in Liberia raises concerns regarding confirmation on whether it really works. According to the World Health Organisation on Thursday, there were only eight cases in the country, a drop from over 300 incidents per week last year September.
Trials of healthy volunteers in the United States, Europe, and unaffected African nations have shown the vaccine as safe while providing a boost in the immune system. But, this vaccine is one of those under development to be entering trials in west Africa and questions on whether the expected response will protect vaccinated health workers and burial teams from infection or enable them to fight off the disease is currently being asked.
Chairman of global vaccines at GSK, Dr Moncef Slaoui, said getting to the point of shipping the vaccine, which is expected to arrive in Liberia on Friday, was a major achievement in the fight against Ebola. He said: “The initial phase I data we have seen are encouraging and give us confidence to progress to the next phases of clinical testing, which will involve the vaccination of thousands of volunteers, including frontline healthcare workers. If the candidate vaccine is able to protect these people, as we hope it will, it could significantly contribute to efforts to bring this epidemic under control and prevent future outbreaks.”
“It is important to remember that this vaccine is still in development and any potential future use in mass vaccination campaigns will depend on whether the WHO [World Health Organisation], regulators and other stakeholders are satisfied that the vaccine candidate provides protection against Ebola without causing significant side-effects and how quickly large quantities of vaccine can be made.”