(by Jeffrey Hodgson, Reuters) – The Canadian government was to ship 800 vials of its experimental Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva beginning on Monday, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced on Saturday.
The WHO, in consultation with health authorities in the countries most affected by the outbreak of the disease, will decide on how the vaccine will be distributed and used, the agency said in a statement.
The vaccine is undergoing clinical trials on humans at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the Maryland after showing promising results in animal testing, it said.
The Canadian government said in August it would donate between 800 and 1,000 doses of its VSV-EBOV vaccine to the WHO for use in Africa, but the vaccine remained in a government lab as Canadian and WHO officials grappled with logistical and ethical issues.
The vaccine was developed at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Canadian government has said that because the vaccine is experimental, it is not sure exactly how many people could be immunized or treated with the amount being shipped.
The vaccine vials are being sent to Geneva in three separate shipments, as a precautionary measure, as the vaccine must be kept at a very low temperature at all times, the Canadian government said.
Iowa-based NewLink Genetics Corp holds the commercial license for the Canadian vaccine and said in August that it would be able to produce tens of thousands of vaccine doses within a month or two.
Canada, where there are no documented Ebola cases, will retain roughly a third of the vaccine for its own needs.
The Ebola outbreak, which was first confirmed in March, is the largest on record and has killed more than 4,500 people, most of them in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
President Barack Obama urged Americans on Saturday not to give in to “hysteria” about the spread of the virus. Three Ebola cases have been diagnosed in the United States and dozens of people are being monitored in case they contract the illness.
(Additional reporting by Frank McGurty in New York and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Thomson Reuters. Visit the website at Reuters .com.
1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. a) Why are they sending it to the WHO?
b) How will the WHO determine who gets the vaccine?
3. a) When did the Canadian government say it would donate the doses of the vaccine?
b) Why has it taken two months to ship?
4. Why is the vaccine being divided into three separate shipments?
5. a) In August, how much of the vaccine did NewLink Genetics say they would produce by now?
b) How many people will be able to be treated with the amount being shipped for distribution in Africa?
6. Where/on who is the vaccine currently undergoing clinical trials?
7. How does this article encourage you?
On the experimental vaccine VSV-EBOV:
The vaccine is a combination of a weakened version of the vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV, found in animals including cattle and horses, and protein from the Ebola virus. VSV is zoonotic, meaning it can be transferred from animals to humans. Infected humans develop flulike symptoms, according to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. The VSV-EBOV vaccine triggers an immune system response that produces antibodies against the Ebola protein, similar to the way a flu shot works.
Clinical trials are under way at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, headquartered in Silver Spring, Md. Twenty vials of the vaccine were sent to Walter Reed for testing on about 40 healthy volunteers, Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose said.
The Phase 1 trial will determine if the vaccine known as VSV-EBOV is safe for human use. It will also determine the proper dosage level and test for possible side effects. Studies have shown the vaccine works in primates both to prevent infection when given before exposure and to increase survival chances when given quickly after exposure. Canadian health officials said results from the human trial are expected by December.
“This vaccine, the product of many years of scientific research and innovation, could be an important tool in curbing the outbreak,” said Dr. Gregory Taylor of Canada’s Public Health Agency. “We will continue to work closely with the WHO to address some of the ethical and logistical issues around using this experimental vaccine in the fight against Ebola.”
Taylor said last week that the next step in testing the vaccine would be to test it in a larger human sample — most likely health-care workers handling Ebola cases on the ground in West Africa.
Canada has been at the forefront of Ebola drug development, with TKM-EBOLA and ZMapp also being developed in Canada with the help of U.S. funding and partnerships. The latter was recently used on the Spanish nurse Teresa Romero, who contracted the virus Oct. 6. Meanwhile, a second vaccine is also in the works in Canada.
“Canada views this experimental Ebola vaccine as a global resource, and, in the interest of global public health, we are sharing it with our international partners to help address the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement.
NewLink Genetics, of Ames, Iowa, holds the license for the vaccine and is arranging the trials on human subjects. NewLink said in early October that it anticipated that clinical trial would soon be under way in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and in an unnamed Africa country, which is not battling Ebola. (from news report at International Business Times and USA Today on Oct. 18)
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), known internationally in English as Doctors Without Borders, was started by French doctors in 1971 and its first office was in Paris, but there are now 19 national offices and 9 branch offices around the world.
They are treating victims of Ebola in West Africa. Read an Oct. 17 analysis “Ebola: On Experimental Treatments and Vaccines” at their website: doctorswithoutborders.org/article/ebola-experimental-treatments-and-vaccines.
From the Public Health Agency of Canada: “Fact Sheet – VSV-EBOV – Canada’s Experimental vaccine for Ebola” at: phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/vsv-ebov-fs-eng.php
Christian relief agency Samaritan’s Purse is working in West Africa to treat Ebola victims. Read about their work at: samaritanspurse.org/disaster/ebola-crisis/#
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