Via Canada.com, a Postmedia report by Stephen Maher: Canada’s Ebola vaccine delays may have cost lives, professor says. Click through for the full report and a video. Excerpt:
Canada started shipments of Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization in Geneva on Monday for urgent trials in Africa, where scientists hope it will stop the outbreak in its tracks, but it’s a journey that has come too late for some experts.
“If this vaccine had been developed on time, probably people would be living now who are dead,” said Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa. “We don’t know, maybe it doesn’t work, but everyone seems to think it works. It’s way past due for trials. That’s for sure.”
Attaran said Canada should have acted sooner, cancelling a contract with the small American pharmaceutical company that bought the rights to develop the vaccine, and getting it to the people who need it, but the government says it was waiting for the World Health Organization and delays had nothing to do with the contract.
Scientists have been hopeful that the Canadian vaccine will work on Ebola like it did during the 2005 trials, when it protected all the monkeys injected with the virus at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
That research, conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, was published in Nature Medicine that year and in the Lancet in 2010. It took Health Canada until November 2013 to get a large batch of the vaccine manufactured, but it’s still not approved for use in West Africa, where experts project the epidemic, if unchecked, will take 1.5 million lives by the end of January.