Ebola outbreak: Millions of Ebola vaccine doses planned by 2015

Health
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(CNN) — As the world reels from its deadliest Ebola outbreak, health experts are fast-tracking tests for various vaccines, and hope to have millions of experimental doses by next year.

There is currently no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which continues to spread in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The virus has killed nearly 5,000 people — mostly in the three nations — and left twice that number infected.

Scientists racing to stop the Ebola epidemic are trying various experimental drugs on patients, including ZMapp and TKM-Ebola.

In addition to drugs, there’s a scramble to develop vaccines, with scores of companies working on experimental doses, the World Health Organization said.

Health care workers in affected nations will get the first opportunity to try the experimental vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline and the Public Health Agency of Canada are already conducting the first phase of clinical trials for two experimental vaccines, according to the WHO.

The latter hopes to have 12 million experimental doses by the first quarter of next year.

The GSK vaccine is being tried on healthy volunteers in the UK and Mali; the Canadian one is undergoing testing on healthy volunteers in the United States.

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“If the vaccines are determined to be safe, tens of thousands of doses could be used in West African trials beginning in January of next year,” the WHO said.

After an expedited review by the FDA, researchers were allowed to start a human safety trial. Due to the urgent need for a vaccine, the FDA waived some of the mandated preclinical studies.

Other vaccines in the works include those by Protein Sciences and Inovio, and another one by Russian scientists.

Ebola is spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. The push for vaccines comes as new cases of Ebola were confirmed in New York and Mali, the latter the first case in that nation.

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