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Rees chairs WHO meeting on Ebola vaccine

- Wits University

Professor Helen Rees, world-renowned expert in vaccines, last week chaired an expert meeting on Ebola vaccines in Geneva.

It appears that the three vaccines being considered for Ebola are safe to be tested on healthy human volunteers, and trials are due to start soon. Healthcare workers are likely to be among the volunteers to test the vaccine.

Everything is being done to speed up the normal trial phase of drug manufacture and to scale up production, meaning widespread availability of the vaccines may happen as early as later this year.

However, there is some concern that the outbreak is on the wane, which would make it harder to test the effectiveness of the vaccines, though would of course be very welcome news. Rees, Executive Director of Wits Reproductive Health Institute (RHI), commented that only when the vaccines are available will it be possible to determine whether they should be rolled out to entire populations or focus on high-risk groups.

The high-profile meeting has attracted the attention of the world’s press and has been reported extensively in countries from the US to Japan. The New York Times gives a particularly informative account.

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