Trial Ebola vaccine set for January rollout in West Africa, WHO says

F. Brinley Bruton

An experimental Ebola vaccine could be in use in West Africa in the form of trials as early as January, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

Marie Paule Kieny, World Health Organization assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation at a news conference on Ebola candidate vaccines, at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva October 21, 2014.
Denis Balibouse | Reuters

"It will be deployed in the form of trials," said Dr. Marie Paule Kieny, the WHO's assistant director general for health systems and innovation. In a briefing with journalists Tuesday, she said that this would be a continuation of smaller trials conducted in Europe. "I'm talking about tens of thousands of doses, not millions," she said.

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The WHO, in consultation with health authorities in the countries most affected by the outbreak of the disease that has killed more than 4,500, will decide on how the experimental vaccine will be distributed and used. About 1,000 people a week are being infected with Ebola, according to the organization, which has warned the number could rise to between 5,000 and 10,000 a week.

The WHO has cautioned that experimental vaccines cannot immediately help to control the worsening epidemic, but could be used to help protect the health workers needed to get it under control.