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WHO Aims for Serum and Vaccine by January

The Guardian   in 
October 22, 2014

The World Health Organisation has announced it hopes to begin testing two experimental Ebola vaccines in west Africa by January and may have a blood serum treatment available for use in Liberia within two weeks.

The UN’s health agency said it aimed to begin testing the two vaccines in the new year on more than 20,000 frontline health care workers and others in west Africa – a bigger rollout than previously envisioned.

Separately, a senior Red Cross official said he was confident the epidemic could be contained within four to six months.

Elhadj As Sy, the secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that the outbreak could be contained if there was “good isolation, good treatment of the cases which are confirmed, good dignified and safe burials of deceased people.”

Dr Marie Paule Kieny, an assistant director general at the WHO, said the first tens of thousands of Ebola vaccines could be distributed in the first months of the new year. Kieny acknowledged there were many “ifs” remaining and “still a possibility that it [a vaccine] will fail”. But she sketched out a much broader experiment than was imagined only six months ago.

“These are quite large trials,” she said.

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