Today marks an important milestone in the fight against Ebola—and our work with many partners to develop a vaccine for it. The first batch of the GSK/NIH candidate Ebola vaccine left Brussels this morning and will land in Liberia in West Africa this afternoon. It will be used to start the first large-scale vaccine efficacy trial run by the National Institutes of Health in the coming weeks.
Shipping the vaccine is a major achievement. The initial phase I data are encouraging and give us confidence to progress to the next phases of clinical testing, which will involve the vaccination of thousands of volunteers, including frontline healthcare workers in Africa. If the candidate vaccine is able to protect these people, as we hope it will, it could significantly contribute to efforts to bring this epidemic under control and prevent future outbreaks.
The development of medicines and vaccines is incredibly complex—it takes many years and many resources—so we are proud to be able to work with partners to streamline the process whilst observing quality standards.
This step further signifies our commitment to the development of vaccines and treatments for developing countries, as well as doing what we can to ensure they are affordable and made available to all. This accelerated process—10 months, for what often takes up to 10 years—was made possible by unprecedented cooperation between governments, NGOs, and pharmaceutical companies.
For the Ebola vaccine, we will continue working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US to assist with the design and to potentially support trials in other affected countries—Sierra Leone and Guinea—in the coming months. We are also planning to begin large phase II safety trials in non-affected West African countries.