Canadian Ebola vaccine to be shipped to Geneva next week, WHO says

Phase 1 trials still in the works to determine Ebola vaccine's safety

TORONTO – The World Health Organization says it is finalizing the paperwork to take possession of 800 or so vials of an experimental Ebola vaccine donated by the Canadian government.

A WHO official says the legal agreement required for the global health agency to accept the vaccine is almost done and the vaccine should be shipped to Geneva next week.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny says the vaccine was left in Winnipeg while plans for clinical trials were being worked out because the vaccine could be stored safely there.

She says a hospital in Geneva that will receive the vaccine has had to buy a special freezer for the vaccine, which must be stored at -80 C.

Kieny says researchers who will conduct clinical trials of the vaccine in Europe and Africa should be submitting their proposals to their regulatory agencies next week, which means they will soon need the vaccine.

These Phase 1 trials will determine if the vaccine is safe to give to people and how much vaccine is needed for each person.

“We are negotiating the final agreement and we should have it signed, I hope, by the beginning of next week. And we should be able to move the vaccine next week,” Kieny, the assistant director general for health systems and innovation, told The Canadian Press.

“This is why the vaccine is not yet in Geneva, and not then distributed further.”

Canada has donated between 800 and 1,000 vials of vaccine to the WHO.

Kieny says that depending on what the studies show, those vials may contain as many as 100 doses apiece, or enough to protect 50 people apiece. When given to prevent infection before exposure to the virus, the vaccine will need to be given in two doses — a priming dose and a booster shot.