WHO: 5 more Ebola vaccines to be tested in March

Associated Press

London — The World Health Organization says millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines will start being tested in March.

Still, the agency warned it’s not clear whether any of these will work against the deadly virus that has already killed over 4,800 people this year in West Africa.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny from the U.N. health agency told reporters that millions of doses of an Ebola vaccine could be available in 2015 if early tests prove that the two leading candidates are safe and effective.

Trials of those two most advanced vaccines —one developed by GlaxoSmithKline in cooperation with the U.S. National Institute of Health, the other developed by the Canadian Public Health Agency — have already begun in the U.S., U.K. and Mali.

“The vaccine is not the magic bullet. But when ready, they may be a good part of the effort to turn the tide of this epidemic,” Kieny said.

If the early vaccine trials hint at success, larger trials testing the vaccines in West Africa could begin as soon as December, Kieny said; previously the trials weren’t scheduled to start until January.

She also said five other possible Ebola vaccines should start being tested in March.

Yet in an indication of how the rising spread of Ebola is upending many attempts to halt this year’s outbreak, Kieny admitted that plans were changing “week to week” as governments, health agencies and donor countries tried to speed up efforts to fight the deadly virus.

In Brussels on Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the European Union and its 28 member nations had managed to come up with 1 billion euros ($1.26 billion) to fight the Ebola crisis, boosted by an additional British pledge on Thursday of 100 million euros ($126 million).