Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three-Way Ebola Vaccine Race Heats Up: Bloomberg, Tonight

As I wait here patiently, for a plane now delayed by weather (carrying one of my holiday arrivals -- precious cargo!), I thought I'd toss up this update -- on the three-way race to get an approved Ebola vaccine into circulation.

As I've written here over the last few days, the three strongest candidates have been identified for years now. But only with the pan-continental Fall 2014 outbreak have we seen urgency in bringing them to market. The three players were Glaxo (via a US governmental partnership, NIAID -- an arm of the NIH), J&J (also with NIAID, part of NIH) and NewLink (via a Canadian Ministry of Health licensed candidate, but now effectively. . . our Merck's, to drive).

The J&J candidate is in third place at the moment, as it will not be production-ready (in scale) for large clinical trials until May of 2015. Thus it is largely a tight race between the Merck and Glaxo candidates. These two will be tested in a comparative, head-to-head efficacy trial starting in January 2015. And so, there could be at least one approved Ebola vaccine candidate, ready for release -- perhaps by March of 2015 -- should all go as planned.

Here's tonight's Bloomberg item -- and a bit (do go read it all):

. . . .An efficacy trial with thousands of participants will begin in Liberia sometime in January, said Fauci. The subjects will receive either a placebo, NewLink’s [now Merck's] vaccine, or Glaxo’s, and infection rates in the three groups will be compared to determine which works best.

In the meantime, additional safety trials of Glaxo’s vaccine are running in Switzerland, the U.K. and Mali, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Data from NewLink’s safety trial should be ready by mid-December, said Fauci. NewLink said this week it will work with Merck & Co. to have the vaccine available for late-stage testing by early next year.

J&J plans to have 250,000 doses of its experimental Ebola vaccine ready for clinical trials in May, the company said last month. . . .

I'll be waiting at the airport until 3 AM -- holiday "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" times indeed, but well worth it! Safe travels, one and all!

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