The first human clinical trials of a Canadian-developed Ebola vaccine, VSV-EBOV, begin in Maryland today to assess the vaccine’s safety and determine the appropriate dosage to fight the virus that has killed more than 4,000 people, largely in West Africa, Health Minister Rona Ambrose has announced.
"We are able to share some very promising and hopeful news in the fight against Ebola," Ambrose said from Calgary.
She made the announcement at a joint news conference with chief public health officer Dr. Gregory Taylor, who spoke from Toronto.
Both stressed no individuals in Canada have ever been diagnosed with Ebola, and the risk of contracting the disease remains low in this country. One person in Belleville, Ont., is in isolation with Ebola-like symptoms, though the hospital described the case as “extremely low risk.” Another person who had been in isolation in Ottawa since Sunday tested negative for the virus on Monday, health officials said.
The vaccine, which was developed by scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, will be tested on 20 healthy volunteers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md.
Studies in primates have shown the vaccine prevents infections, if given before exposure, and increases survival chances among those who get it quickly after exposure.
The results from the Phase 1 human trials will be completed by December, Ambrose said, although no specific date was given.
She said the vaccine has been shown to be “100 per cent effective” in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus when tested on animals.
"This provides hope because if the Canadian vaccine is shown to be safe and effective [in humans], it will stop this devastating outbreak," Ambrose said.