NIH launches trial of second Ebola vaccine

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is starting to test a second Ebola vaccine on humans in partnership with the Pentagon, the agency announced Wednesday.

"The need for a vaccine to protect against Ebola infection is urgent," said National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci in a statement.

"NIH welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct human clinical tests of another promising — and hopefully, successful — Ebola vaccine candidate."

The vaccine is known as VSV-ZEBOV and was developed by Canada's public health agency.

The NIH is testing its effectiveness in two intramuscular doses while the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is testing it in one dose.

The move is part of the Obama administration's effort to accelerate the development of vaccines and treatment for Ebola while the epidemic rages in West Africa.

The NIH began its first human trial of an Ebola vaccine last month, with initial results expected before the end of the year.

Officials warned that a rigorous approval process is needed to ensure the shot doesn't harm anyone.

"The worst thing in the world you could do is to let something widely out before you have tested safety," Fauci said. "That would violate scientific and ethical principles."

An Ebola vaccine could help protect healthcare workers and others most at risk of contracting the disease, which has no proven treatment.

Charles Link, chief scientific officer and CEO of NewLink Genetics, praised the NIH for moving VSV-ZEBOV into human trials "in a matter of weeks rather than years." NewLink Genetics holds the U.S. license for the potential vaccine.