Human trials of a potential Ebola vaccine, created by the Public Health Agency of Canada, began on Monday, with hopes that the much-needed drug can be mass-produced and shipped to affected West African nations within a few months.
According to the Associated Press, Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose hoped that moving forward with human testing would mark a breakthrough in the international community’s efforts to combat the deadly virus. “This provides hope because if the Canadian vaccine is shown to be safe and effective, it will stop this devastating outbreak,” the health minister said.
Ambrose told the AP that twenty vials of the experimental vaccine have been transported to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland for further testing. About 40 healthy individuals have volunteered to be the first human test subjects, she said.
She also said that the first phase of human trials will determine the drug’s overall safety, which will be thoroughly evaluated for potential side effects.
Initial tests on primates have been promising, as results have reportedly documented an increase in survival rates, along with a lessened chance for further infection.
Ambrose said that results from the human trials should come sometime in December. If the results are encouraging, the next step may include delivering samples to workers on the ground in West Africa.
The vaccine can reportedly be injected before Ebola infection occurs. “It can have action on both sides, a little bit like the rabies vaccine,” said Dr. Gary Kobinger, the chief of special pathogens at the Public Health Agency of Canada. The potential vaccine has reportedly been created without any live Ebola in the drug, and it only utilizes dead parts of the virus.
Over 4,000 have been killed as a result of the Ebola virus, according to the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.