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GSK Vaccine Delayed in the Offing for Ebola Outbreak

Update Date: Oct 18, 2014 07:44 PM EDT
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UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has said that its efforts to manufacture an Ebola vaccine are too late for the current outbreak.

BBC reported Dr Ripley Ballou, head of GSK's Ebola vaccine research saying that even after fast tracking the process of producing a vaccine, its availability for general use may not be possible before 2016. He said data from clinical trials should be assessed to determine effective doses and the duration for which the vaccine is effective.

"To have a vaccine that people can use, you have to have the vaccine registered and it has to be manufactured on a scale that is consistent with the intended use. It is going to be well into next year if not the year beyond before we have that kind of level of manufacturing and the data that is necessary," he said according to The Independent.

GSK has provided experimental vaccines to volunteers in UK. During its next phase of trials, the vaccines will be made available to healthcare workers.

According to WHO estimates, Ebola has infected nearly 9,000 people and more than 4,500 have succumbed to it. West African nations Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are worst affected by the outbreak which began in March this year and has been the most devastating.

The international community has come under criticism for not doing enough to control the outbreak in its early stages. While efforts have been stepped up in the recent past, experts fear that the number of infections and deaths could rapidly rise before the situation improves.

Daily Mail quoted Peter Piot, whose efforts helped discover Ebola in 1976, saying the outbreak cannot be controlled unless vaccines are available.

"No-one anticipated we would need a vaccine. And so both internally and, I think at the WHO, we felt the best approach was to watch very closely. I think in retrospect we should have pulled that trigger earlier," Ballou said, according to BBC.

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