WHO sees small-scale use of experimental Ebola vaccines in January

Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:34am EDT
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* WHO focused on candidate GSK, Newlink shots if shown safe

* Few hundred doses of ZMapp expected by year-end

* Blood transfusions, serum from survivors offer best hope

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it expected to begin small-scale use of two experimental Ebola vaccines in West Africa early next year and in the meantime, transfusions of survivors' blood may offer the best hope of treatment.

WHO is working with pharmaceutical companies and regulators to accelerate the use of a range of potential treatments to fight the disease that has no cure and which has killed 2,917 out of 6,263 people infected in West Africa since an outbreak began in March, a senior WHO official said.

GlaxoSmithKline has begun clinical trials of its vaccine in the United States and Britain, to be followed by a trial starting in Mali next week, while NewLink vaccine trials are about to start in the United States and Germany, said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general.

"If everything goes well again we might be able to start to use some of these vaccines in affected countries at the very beginning of next year, in January. This will not be a mass vaccination campaign, let's be clear about that because the quantity which will be available doesn't make this possible," Kieny told a news briefing in Geneva.

She stressed however that the shots are experimental and have not yet been shown to work against Ebola: "They have given very promising results in monkeys, but monkeys are not humans.   Continued...