GlaxoSmithKline is speeding up trials and scaling production of an Ebola vaccine, but does not expect to be able to make it in mass quantities for 12 to 18 months, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chairman of research and development at the U.K. pharmaceutical giant, said Tuesday on CNBC. That's even before there's any consideration of when it might potentially be available for use, he said.
Usually, it takes 10 to 30 years from the idea stage until approval for human use, Slaoui told "Squawk Box." In this case, Glaxo is working to significantly compress that time frame. But he won't project as to when it may be ready to be released.
On Monday, a nurse in Spain become the first person in the latest outbreak known to have contracted Ebola outside of West Africa. Three other people, including the patient's husband, were being monitored for the virus.
"Normally, we need data from thousands, if not tens of thousands of healthy volunteers before we can make a vaccine available," said Slaoui. "In this particular setting … we will need data from perhaps several hundred maybe a thousand volunteers."
Even if the latest Ebola epidemic subsides, like in past outbreaks, he said Glaxo is committed to making this vaccine at industrial scale for the West African countries that need it and possibly other nations should the virus spread. Slaoui pointed to Glaxo's persistence over three decades to discover and develop a malaria vaccine that's in the approval process.