A batch of GlaxoSmithKline’s candidate Ebola vaccine will arrive in Liberia on Friday. It will be the first time an experimental immunisation for the deadly virus has been trialled in a country that is suffering from the latest epidemic.
GSK said the shipment, containing 300 doses of vaccine, will be used to start the first large-scale trial of its candidate, which has so far only been tested on small groups of patients in the UK, US, Switzerland and Mali.
The UK drug maker said the Liberian trial would involve up to 30,000 people, a third of whom would be injected with the vaccine, with the remainder given an inactive version. The trial volunteers will include frontline healthcare workers, the company said. The company may launch similar trials in Sierra Leone and Guinea in coming months, it said.
GSK is one of several drug makers racing to develop a vaccine that could prevent the spread of Ebola, which has already killed at least 8,668 people in Libera, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It inherited the research programme when it acquired Swiss biotech Okairos in 2013 and is working with America’s National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine.
Other experimental vaccines are being developed by US drug giant Johnson & Johnson and Canadian biotech NewLink, though these are both at an earlier stage than the GSK drug.
He said the results from GSK’s first human trials in the autumn were “encouraging” and voiced hope the vaccine could “significantly contribute to efforts to bring this epidemic under control and prevent future outbreaks”