GlaxoSmithKline is considered by many a leading contender for delivering an Ebola vaccine at scale. Recent quotes by the Head of Ebola vaccine research for GSK, however, are sobering and indicate the enormous challenges ahead in the race to deliver a safe and effective vaccine in the quantities needed for the unprecedented outbreak in West Africa.
“The thing that is going to have the biggest impact is what is happening to the trajectory of the epidemic curve. If you progress the current trends 2 months into the future are we still in an environment where you can even consider doing a trial?” Dr. Ripley Ballou, Head of Ebola Vaccine Research, GSK.
At the GSK vaccine research facility outside of Brussels, they are working to squeeze 10 years of trial activity into 12 months. The hope is to have 20,000 doses ready to be tested by health workers early next year.
“At the same time 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 to be able to do that. I don’t think this [vaccine] can be seen as the primary answer to this particular outbreak. If it does work then to be able to be prepared so that we don’t have to go through this again in five years, or whenever the next epidemic is going to break out.” Dr. Ripley Ballou.