The Serum Institute of India plans to manufacture 20,000 to 30,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine by the end of November for use in trials against an outbreak in Uganda, according to reports quoting its developers and company sources.
The lack of a proven vaccine against the Sudan strain of the virus has hampered the response to Uganda’s outbreak.
Since last month, there have been 54 confirmed cases and 19 deaths, with the first case in the capital, Kampala, being reported last week. However, health officials believe the true figure could be higher.
Vaccines against the more common Zaire strain of Ebola have proven to be extremely effective in recent outbreaks in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Oxford University, which collaborated with AstraZeneca to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, has an Ebola vaccine that has been shown in Phase 1 trials to induce an immune response to both the Sudan and Zaire strains.
Its creators stated that they were collaborating with the Serum Institute to produce doses that could be used in a clinical trial in Uganda once regulatory approval was obtained.
“We are hoping to have a large number of doses, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 or more by mid-to-end of November,” Teresa Lambe, the chief scientific investigator on Oxford’s Ebola vaccine, said.
This information was confirmed by a source at the Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and part of a conglomerate run by Indian billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla. According to the source, the Ebola vaccine doses would be provided free of charge.
Uganda’s Information Minister, Chris Baryomunsi, stated that he was unaware of any vaccine rollout plans.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that clinical trials of two vaccines could begin in the coming weeks, subject to Ugandan government approval.
According to WHO, there are at least six vaccines in development for the Sudan strain, three of which have Phase 1 data.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, D.C., developed one of them. A Sabin spokesperson said the institute believed its vaccine was “furthest along in the pipeline” and that it was working with WHO and other organizations on how it could help respond to the outbreak.
The Oxford researchers expressed disappointment that their vaccine was not ready for use when the outbreak began, claiming that governments around the world had not prioritized vaccine investment enough in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vaccine has been in development for several years, but progress through clinical trials has been slowed due to funding shortages, according to the researchers.
“With better investment the world could easily have ready-made vaccines sitting in vials for this and a number of other diseases,” said Sandy Douglas, an associate professor at Oxford.
“We’re spending a couple of months now playing catch up on work that could have been done ahead of time.”
(Adapted from LiveMint.com)
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