In outbreak situations such as the Ebola crisis, vaccines play an essential role that was largely needed during the 2014 health emergency, especially when the plague reached the First World. To ensure preparedness against Ebola, now and in the future, companies have been rushing to develop vaccines against this disease. GSK has come up with its own vaccine, and the collaboration between Bavarian Nordic and Johnson&Johnson has resulted with an alternative treatment. Today, both candidates are starting Phase II.
The ebola epidemic has been contained thanks of the efforts of the World Health Organization, local governments and other non-governmental organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders. However, “contained” doesn’t mean cured. Liberia, which was declared free of the disease, reported two new deaths caused by the virus and the fear of resurgence has been keeping people away from the volunteers’ recruiters.
Nevertheless, Bavarian Nordic and its partner Janssen, J&J’ subsidiary, finally enrolled enough volunteers and have launched the Phase II clinical trial in the UK and France. A second Phase II is planned to start in Africa in the third quarter of the year.
GSK, on the other side, will travel directly to the African continent and test its drug candidate in Senegal. The UK giant’s vaccine, in collaboration with Emergent BioSolutions, is undergoing a Phase I clinical trial at Oxford University.
Both vaccines carry a part of the Ebola virus in order to stimulate the body’s immune system against it, but not the living virus, nor attenuated strains for that matter. Although the companies emphasized this fact, they still struggled to find volunteers and who in their right minds would have expected anything else? Since the Ebola outbreak more than 11.200 people have died, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.