Two Ebola vaccine candidates might be ready for testing in hard-hit West African countries in December, a month earlier than previously predicted. And one vaccine manufacturer has said it may have millions of doses available by April, should studies prove that it’s safe and effective, a much more optimistic scenario than outlined until now.
As more and more resources are mobilized for development of Ebola vaccines, the timeline is being compressed, said Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director-general at the World Health Organization (WHO), today at a press conference about a high-level meeting on vaccines that took place yesterday. “Things are changing from week to week,” said Kieny, who also noted that several new donors have offered to help finance vaccine production and testing. Two new Ebola cases, one in Mali and one in New York City, have added to the sense of urgency in containing the spread of the deadly virus. But the best-case scenarios being discussed may be far too optimistic given the rapid spread of the Ebola virus, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
The focus of the meeting was “access and financing” of the vaccines, which many workers in the field initially thought could not be developed quickly enough to help with this epidemic. But as the epidemic continues to grow—there are nearly 10,000 officially reported cases to date, about half of whom have died—efforts to speed the testing and production of vaccine have gained steam, and this was the latest of several related WHO meetings. (ScienceInsider described some of the meeting’s key talking points yesterday based on leaked documents from the meeting; the documents were originally distributed to participants, who included scientists and representatives from companies, governments, and regulatory agencies.)