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Clinical trials prove Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine safe and effective

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine proved to be safe and effective in a phase I clinical trial, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine. These studies were performed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to explore the experimental vaccine’s safety and what immune response it evokes when administered at different dosages.

Other phase I studies have been conducted at a variety of sites worldwide, including Halifax, Nova Scotia where Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine was tested by the Canadian Immunization Research Network on volunteers. The results of this trial were essential in determining an appropriate and safe dosage.

Scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory developed Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine used in these studies. The Canadian government owns the intellectual property associated with this vaccine. It has been licensed to NewLink Genetics, and on November 24, 2014, NewLink Genetics and Merck announced their collaboration on the vaccine.

Eleven clinical trials have been conducted, are currently ongoing, or are planned world-wide using Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine. Eight of these have been phase I trials and three are phase II and phase III trials. Vials of VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine, which Canada donated to the WHO in 2014, have been used in four clinical trials conducted in Gabon, Kenya, Germany and Switzerland.

Interim results from phase II clinical trials in Liberia, sponsored by the U.S.’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, found that Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine has proven to be safe. The trials are continuing and will advance to a phase III study. Canada’s VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine also is being tested as part of the WHO-sponsored phase III clinical trial in Guinea. This trial focuses on ring vaccination—a program of vaccinating contacts and potential contacts in the immediate community around the infected individual.

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