The World Health Organization (WHO) said today hundreds of thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine are expected to be ready by mid-2015, with several new vaccine candidates joining two other experimental vaccines that have begun clinical studies this month.

Marie-Paule Kieny, Ph.D., the WHO’s assistant director-general—health systems and innovation, told reporters that five additional new vaccine candidates are in development and expected to progress into trials next year.

“Before the end of first half of 2015 … we could have available a few hundred thousand doses. That could be 200,000—it could be less or could be more,” Dr. Kieny said, in remarks reported by Reuters and the UK's Sky News.

“Vaccine is not the magic bullet, but when ready, it may be a good part of the effort to turn the tide of the epidemic,” Dr. Kieny added.

As of Oct. 22, according to the WHO, the number of total Ebola cases in the West Africa outbreak stands at 9,936, with 4,877 deaths. “Cases continue to increase exponentially in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone; the situation in these countries remains of great concern,” WHO said in an October 23 statement.

Dr. Kieny spoke following a meeting on potential Ebola vaccines with health experts, officials from Ebola-affected nations, biopharma companies, and funding agencies.

The five vaccine candidates in development are expected to join two experimental vaccines that have begun trials this month:

  • ChAd3-EBOV, for which a clinical study was launched earlier this month in Mali. NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) developed the vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Biologicals. 
  • VSV-ZEBOV, which has begun trials in the U.S., at NIH’s Clinical Center, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Clinical Trials Center. Trials in Africa will begin November 1. VSV-EBOV was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and licensed to BioProtection Systems, a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics.

In January, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) plans to start trials for a prime-boost Ebola vaccine regimen that combines AdVac® technology from Crucell Holland, part of J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos., and Bavarian Nordic’s MVA-BN® Filovirus vaccine candidate.

Bavarian Nordic earlier this week committed to making available 1 million doses of MVA-BN over the coming year—with J&J reporting that included 250,000 doses to be released by May for clinical trials. The vaccine was discovered through collaborative research with the NIH—whose National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is joining the companies in a partnership J&J announced back in September.

While Dr. Kieny did not identify the five vaccines in development, company announcements and news reports have revealed some of those efforts. One is VesiculoVax™, for which Profectus BioSciences and the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) received a three-year $8.5 million grant toward support studies from the U.S. Department of the Army.

Last week, Profectus was awarded a one-year, about $5.8 million contract by the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) toward its Ebola vaccine. That contract can be extended to a total of 13 months and $8.6 million.

Another therapeutic in the works against Ebola is TKM-Ebola, an RNAi product developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Project Manager Medical Countermeasure Systems.