UPDATED: GSK, NewLink Ebola vaccine trials could launch this January in Africa
UPDATE: On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would start early testing on its own Ebola vaccine in January, too, and plans to invest $200 million to have 250,000 doses prepped for clinical trials beginning next May. J&J, like Glaxo, plans to have about one million doses ready to go by the end of 2015.
- On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that human clinical trials of experimental Ebola vaccines could launch in West Africa as soon as January.
- The two main vaccines that will be tested are GlaxoSmithKline's joint development effort with the NIH and the Canadian vaccine licensed out to Iowa-based NewLink Genetics.
- Scientists, ethicists, and global public health officials have yet to sketch out precisely who will be eligible to receive the experimental vaccines and how the trials will be structured.
There is still a large amount of uncertainty regarding precisely how the vaccine trials will progress, but WHO spokespeople said that GSK plans to have approximately one million doses ready by the end of 2015. Last week, Glaxo tempered expectations about its vaccine's capacity to address the current outbreak, which could wind up infecting nearly 1.5 million people by January if the epidemic isn't contained.
Current speculation is that tens of thousands of doses would be administered to families of infected Ebola patients for compassionate use beginning in January provided that early trials being conducted in the U.S. and U.K. prove the vaccines' efficacy and safety.
However, "[t]he funding scenario has not been worked out," said the WHO spokesperson, Marie-Paule Kieny. "The assumption is that funding will come from the countries helping with the response: the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Germany."