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GSK and J&J Set to Collaborate to Produce Ebola Vaccine

Update Date: Oct 23, 2014 09:03 AM EDT

To tackle the Ebola crisis, US pharma giant Johnson & Johnson and Britain's GlaxoSmithKline are expected to collaborate to produce a vaccine.

The current Ebola crisis has been the worst since the virus's isolation in 1976, with the current outbreak killing over 4,000 people and infecting 9,000. Estimates project that the virus could affect a million people by next year if the outbreak is not controlled. While governments have pledged millions of dollars, the lack of a vaccine has dented efforts in combating the virus.

According to Reuters, pharma majors J&J and GSK are contemplating collaboration to ensure million of doses of vaccine by next year. While GSK's vaccine is said to become available limitedly later this year, J&J will conduct human trials early next year.

"It might even be that we have to combine their vaccine with ours," said Paul Stoffels, J&J head of research.

Stoffels and Andrew Witty, GSK's chief executive have reportedly held talks on many occasions in the recent past to discuss collaboration.

J&J's vaccines have shown they can protect monkeys against the Zaire strain of Ebola with the promise that it would be effective in humans as well. The US pharma major is working on accelerated production of 250,000 doses of vaccines by May next year.

Concerns over lack of vaccines were expressed by Peter Piot, the scientists who helped discover Ebola virus. GSK had also admitted that its vaccines may be too late in the coming to tackle the present outbreak.  

Meanwhile, the European Union is set to boost international efforts to tackle the outbreak with 200 million in funding. The money would be raised jointly by pharmaceutical companies and the European Commission.

"It is important to remember clinical trials are in their early stages. We should not be complacent. The good news today should spur on further research into a disease that has been ignored for far too long," said Zee News quoted Liberian Minister of Information Lewis Brown. 

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