In a move to arrest the outbreak of the Ebola disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting with high-ranking government representatives from Ebola-affected countries and development partners, civil society, regulatory agencies, vaccine manufacturers, and funding agencies yesterday to discuss and agree on how to fast track testing and deployment of vaccines in sufficient numbers to impact the Ebola epidemic.
According to a media release on the organization’s website www.who.int:
Key consensus commitments achieved during the meeting include:
- Results from phase 1 clinical trials of most advanced vaccines are expected to be available in December 2014 and efficacy trials in affected countries also will begin in this timeframe, with protocols adapted to take into consideration safety and immunogenicity results as they become available.
- Pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccines committed to ramp up production capacity for millions of doses to be available in 2015, with several hundred thousand ready before the end of the first half of the year. Regulatory authorities in countries where the vaccines are manufactured and in Africa committed to supporting this goal by working under extremely short deadlines.
- Community engagement is key and work should be scaled up urgently in partnership between local communities, national governments, NGOs, and international organizations.
WHO was called upon by all parties to ensure coordination between the various actors.
Vaccines may have a major impact on further evolution of the epidemic. All parties are working together to finalize the most rapid approach for developing and distributing vaccines, including direct engagement with affected communities so that effective treatments and prevention methods are embraced and shared far and wide by the most effective ambassadors, the communities themselves.
Trials of vaccines have already begun in the U.S., U.K., and Mali, and are beginning in Gabon, Germany, Kenya and Switzerland to determine safety, dosing and efficacy.
“As we accelerate in a matter of weeks a process that typically takes years, we are ensuring that safety remains the top priority, with production speed and capacity a close second,“ says Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation.
As next steps, the WHO Director-General will be working with groups to advance vaccines’ trials and deployment in the most expeditious manner possible.
Meeting participants included high-ranking officials from the ministries for health and of foreign affairs from Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, Guinea, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
There were representatives from SAGE, the African Development Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries, the European Investment Bank, the European Medicines Agency, the GAVI Alliance, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the Paul Erlich Institute, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Bank; and executives from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson, Merck Vaccines, and New Link Genetics.
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Senior Fellow
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