Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said today its board agreed to commit up to $300 million toward purchasing millions of doses of an Ebola vaccine to support large-scale vaccination efforts.
The board also committed to another $90 million toward support for countries working to introduce the vaccines, rebuild their health systems, and restore immunization services for all vaccines in countries affected by the West Africa outbreak.
Gavi said it will raise the money through “a combination of existing and new sources of funds”—as well as join other entities that have already pledged funding toward efforts to treat people with Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has projected that hundreds of thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine doses are expected to be ready by mid-2015, as existing studies continue and other clinical trials get launched in coming weeks.
“The Ebola outbreak reminds us of the critical importance of vaccines in fighting infectious diseases,” Gavi CEO Seth Berkley, M.D., said in a statement. “The board’s decision underlines Gavi’s commitment to support the people of the Ebola-affected countries by ensuring that they will have access to a WHO-recommended vaccine as soon as one is approved and available from manufacturers.”
At least two human clinical programs have been launched toward development of Ebola treatments:
- ChAd3-EBOV, for which a clinical study was launched in October in Mali. The Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of NIOH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) developed the vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Biologicals.
- rVSV-EBOV, which has begun trials in the U.S., at NIH’s Clinical Center, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Clinical Trials Center, as well as in Switzerland and Africa. VSV-EBOV was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and licensed to BioProtection Systems, a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics. The vaccine candidate is licensed to Merck & Co., which gained exclusive rights last month in return for joining NewLink in research, development, manufacturing, and distribution.
However, the rVSV-EBOV trial has been interrupted, a week before its scheduled end, for all 59 volunteer patients who are taking the treatment in Geneva. The action was “a measure of precaution” following complaints by four of the volunteers complained of joint pains in their hands and feet.
“They are all fine and being monitored regularly by the medical team leading the study,” the University of Geneva Hospital said today in a statement.
Merck and NewLink are set to resume their human safety trial of rVSV-EBOV on January 5, 2015, in up to 15 volunteers. Before that happens, the patients will be examined to ensure that their symptoms of joint pain were “benign and temporary,” the hospital added.
According to a WHO statement issued yesterday, 17,942 “confirmed, probable, and suspected” cases of Ebola have been reported as of Dec. 7 in the U.S. and seven other nations—Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Spain—with 6,388 reported deaths.