Pivotal Ebola vaccine trials to start this month or next -WHO

Thu Jan 8, 2015 11:34am EST
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* Phase III trials set for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

* No major safety issues to date, WHO chief Chan says

* Disease has killed more than 8,000 in past year

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Final-stage trials of experimental Ebola vaccines will begin in January or February in the worst-hit West African countries as scientists and drugmakers race to block the deadly disease, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

If effective, the shots will be available for deployment a few months later.

Nearly 90 experts from vaccine manufacturers, regulatory agencies and health ministries met at WHO headquarters to review data from initial safety trials and finalise plans for pivotal Phase III clinical trials in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"It is my understanding that no major safety signals have been reported to date," WHO director-general Margaret Chan told the talks in opening remarks obtained by Reuters.

"We all want the momentum and sense of urgency to continue," she said. "Too many health care workers are still getting infected, including nationals and doctors and nurses from foreign medical teams."   Continued...