LONDON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Trials of an experimental vaccine developed by the Canadian government and licensed to NewLink Genetics will begin swiftly in healthy volunteers in Europe, Gabon and Kenya, under a programme with funding from the Wellcome Trust.
A $5 million grant from the medical charity will allow several global partners, overseen by the World Health Organization (WHO), to gather essential safety data for the so-called rVSV-EBOV vaccine.
The vaccine is already undergoing initial testing in the United States and is one of two to have been injected into people in clinical trials. The other, from GlaxoSmithKline , is also being tested in Europe and Africa.
Wellcome said on Wednesday that 335 volunteers would be vaccinated in total in the new trials, starting with 20 in Germany, followed by 100 in each of Gabon and Kenya, and then 115 in Switzerland.
Canada has donated 800 vials of the vaccine, which was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, to be used in the trials.
The WHO said the death toll from the world's worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa was likely more than 5,000 out of nearly 14,000 cases and the death rate was running at 70 percent, although it was better for people in treatment centres.
Drugmakers are racing to develop Ebola vaccines but they face a series of hurdles if they are to get millions of doses ready for use next year as hoped. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques)