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Ebola vaccine doses could reach Africa by mid-2015: WHO

Ebola vaccine trials could start in west Africa as early as December, with hundreds of thousands of doses potentially being rolled out by mid-2015, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

“All is being put in place to start efficacy tests in the affected countries as early as December,” said WHO assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny, adding that several hundred thousand doses could be available in the “first half” of next year.

Kieny spoke after the UN health agency held closed-door talks yesterday on potential vaccines with medical experts, officials from Ebola-affected nations, pharmaceutical firms and funding agencies.

Two experimental vaccines are seen as the leading candidates to beat Ebola.

Supplies of Canadian-discovered experimental vaccine rVSV are arriving in Geneva for a new round of trials. Hopes are also centred on ChAd3, made by British company GlaxoSmithKline.

There are five other potential vaccines in the pipeline, Kieny said.

WHO hopes to deploy huge numbers of doses of whichever vaccine proves its mettle in trials to Africa for “real-world” tests.

“Vaccine is not the magic bullet, but when ready, it may be a good part of the effort to turn the tide of the epidemic,” Kieny said.

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