Updated 06:42 AM EST, Tue, Jan 26, 2021

Ebola 2014 Update: Glaxo to Begin Clinical Trials of Ebola Vaccine to Combat Outbreak in West Africa

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Glaxo is said to be starting trials on an Ebola drug in September, with a vaccine ready for the public to use by 2015. The company paid $335 million for the drug from a Swiss company, Okairos, earlier in 2014. Close to 1,000 people have already died in the latest Ebola virus outbreak which has ravaged much of West Africa. 

GlaxoSmithKline's experimental vaccine is currently in limited supply, and was first tested on primates with mostly successful results.  "[The vaccine] is now due to enter initial phase I testing in humans, pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," reports Reuters. "Even if it is fast-tracked, however, and emergency procedures are put in place, the new vaccine could not be ready for widespread deployment before 2015--even assuming it works as well as hoped," according to Reuters.

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, are the areas most affected by the virus. Guinea officials have recently announced they were closing their land borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. Earlier this month, Liberia announced it was declaring a state of emergency due to the disease. Nigeria, which also declared a state of emergency last week, recently confirmed a new case of Ebola, and so far 13 infected people have died there. Hundreds have been infected with the disease across the continent, including two Americans now being treated in Atlanta.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is working with Glaxo, explains how the new drug works against Ebola: "It is a chimpanzee adenovirus vector vaccine into which two Ebola genes have been inserted. This is a non-replicating viral vector, which means the vaccine enters a cell, delivers the gene inserts and does not replicate further."

The institute's vaccine research center says it is in talks with local governments in hopes of getting the treatment to victims sooner, and moving more quickly  beyond the initial Phase I trials. The problem of not delivering the vaccine to the African victims has raised concerns. 

In a joint statement, Jeremy Farrar who represents the Wellcome Trust, Peter Piot, the man who discovered the Ebola virus in 1970s, and David Heymann, who directs the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, said that patients and governments shouldn't have to wait for the OK to move forward with treatment from the experimental drug, called ZMAPP, and ought to be "allowed to make informed decisions about whether or not to use these products--for example to protect and treat health care workers who run especially high risks of infection," reports the Nigerian Voice.

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