By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 08/13/14 10:51 AM EDT
The Canadian government is sending an experimental Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization to help fight the deadly outbreak of the virus in West Africa.
“Our Government is committed to doing everything we can to support our international partners, including providing staff to assist with the outbreak response, funding and access to our experimental vaccine,” Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said on Tuesday.
WHO bioethicists have said Ebola vaccines and drugs that have not been tested in humans should be allowed to treat patients on compassionate grounds amid fears the outbreak could spread.
The Canadian government owns the rights to the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was developed by its health ministry. The vaccine is licensed to BioProtection Systems, a biotech company based in Ames, Iowa.
“Canada feels this experimental vaccine is a global resource, so in response, we are sharing it with the international community, while keeping a small supply in Canada,” Ambrose said.
The health ministry emphasized that, while the vaccine has shown promise in primates, it has not been tested on people.
So far, the Canadian government has donated about $5 million to fight the disease that has killed more than a thousand people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. They have also sent health officials and resources to the region, including two mobile laboratories to help diagnose the disease faster.
The international community is scrambling to control the disease, with the U.S. contributing to the effort.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already has more than 30 staff in West Africa working and is sending another 50 officials to aid control efforts.
The National Institutes of Health is developing its own Ebola Vaccine in partnership with British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, which is expected to go into early human trials before the end of the year.