GENEVA: Hundreds of thousands of Ebola vaccine doses could be rolled out to West Africa by mid-2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) said after a new case of the virus was reported in New York and a two-year-old girl died in the first case in Mali.
The search for an effective vaccine to fight the disease took on fresh urgency as the WHO said several hundred thousand doses could be available in the “first half” of 2015.
“All is being put in place to start efficacy tests in the affected countries as early as December,” WHO assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny said.
Kieny’s comments came after closed-door talks to try to find a vaccine to beat a disease that has ravaged the west African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Experts are pinning their hopes on the experimental vaccine rVSV, with doses arriving in Geneva for a new round of trials, and ChAd3, made by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline.
Five other potential vaccines are in the pipeline.
Whichever proves effective in trials, WHO hopes to send huge numbers of doses to Africa for “real-world” tests.
“The pharmaceutical companies developing all these vaccines are committing to ramping up the production capacity to millions of doses to be available in 2015,” said Kieny.
There is currently no licensed cure for Ebola, which is transmitted through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or someone who has died from the disease.
In the West African nation of Mali, a two-year-old girl who recently returned from a trip to neighboring Guinea with her grandmother died from the virus.
The toddler’s condition had shown signs of improvement earlier, but a source in the prime minister’s office said she had succumbed to the virus in the western region of Kayes.
The Malian government advised residents to avoid all non-vital travel to affected areas.