The first human clinical trials of a Canadian-developed Ebola vaccine, VSV-EBOV, begin in Maryland today on 20 healthy volunteers to assess the vaccine’s safety and to determine the appropriate dosage to fight the deadly virus that has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in West Africa, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced.
“We are able to share some very promising and hopeful news in the fight against Ebola,” Ambrose said from Calgary.
She instilled hope in many worldwide after her announcement at a joint press conference with chief public health officer Dr. Gregory Taylor, who spoke from Toronto.
Both emphasized that no individuals in Canada have been diagnosed with Ebola, and the risk of contracting the disease remains low in this country.
The Ebola vaccine, which was developed by scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, has proven safe in animals and will be tested on 20 healthy volunteers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD Monday.
The results from the Phase 1 human trials are expected to be completed by December, Ambrose said, though an exact date was not provided.
She said the vaccine has been shown to be “100 percent effective” in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus when tests were performed on animals.
“If the Canadian vaccine is shown to be safe and effective [in humans], it will stop this devastating outbreak,” Ambrose said.
Canada has supplied 20 vials of the experimental Ebola vaccine for use in the trial. The public health agency said other Phase 1 clinical trials are being considered for Europe, Canada, and Africa.
A day after a Texas nurse tested positive for Ebola – the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S., Ambrose and Taylor called the Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.”