Good news for Ebola-stricken countries: GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceuticals company, might have the vaccine to tackle the deadly virus. Bad news: the vaccine is currently not deemed to be safe for humans, and given the procedures that yet have to be initiated to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, it will only be ready by 2016. Meanwhile, the African people are losing the battle against Ebola.
As the West Africa Ebola epidemic claims more and more lives, vaccines are allegedly being repeatedly tested with the hope of neutralising the pathogen. Is the virus really so potent that human expertise cannot come up with an effective solution, or are the conspiracy theories true? Either way, people are dying in the meantime. Besides, in spite of our intellectual faculties, we cannot grasp every single thing with our limited knowledge and capabilities.
A British pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that the commercial use of the Ebola vaccine that they have formulated will not happen until 2016 – two more years to wait. The vaccine in question has not yet been confirmed to be safe for use. Therefore, the scientists have to go through certain procedures to ensure that it is both safe and efficient.
“We have to be able to manufacture the vaccine at doses that would be consistent with general use and that’s going to take well into 2016,” Doctor Ripley Ballou, head of GSK’s Ebola vaccine research unit, told BBC radio in an interview aired on Friday.
“I don’t think this vaccine should be seen as the primary answer to this particular outbreak but we certainly hope that this vaccine could be used to prevent future outbreaks.”
“In order for the vaccine to be used we have to have data on its safety and its efficacy and those data will not be available before the end of 2015,” he said.
Doctor Ripley Ballou also added that decades back, it would take around 7 to 10 years to develop a vaccine. So, the contemporary delays are actually the result of accelerated processes.
Yet others though are of the opinion that the efforts have to be multiplied as the lives of too many people are at stake: whole populations of West African countries, together with front-line workers.
For instance, the executive director of MSF’s (Médécins sans Frontières) access campaign, Manica Balasegaram, stated that: “We need GSK to show leadership by making a bold decision now and take on some risk in driving through a process of accelerating development in parallel with the scale-up of supply.”