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Archived - Government of Canada ships Ebola vaccine to World Health Organization

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October 18, 2014 - Ottawa, ON -Public Health Agency of Canada

The Government of Canada will ship 800 vials of its experimental Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, beginning with its first shipment on Monday, October 20, 2014.

The vaccine vials are being sent in three separate shipments, as a precautionary measure, due to the challenges in moving a vaccine that must kept at a very low temperature at all times.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is supplying the vaccine to the WHO in its role as the international coordinating body for the Ebola outbreak, so that the vaccine can be made available as an international resource.

The World Health Organization, in consultation with partners, including the health authorities from the affected countries, will guide and facilitate how the vaccine is distributed and used. There are both ethical and logistical challenges with the use of experimental vaccines and treatments in humans and the WHO is considering them carefully before using the vaccine in this outbreak.

On October 13, 2014, the Government of Canada announced the start of clinical trials for the vaccine at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the United States. These trials will provide critical information about the safety of the vaccine and what dose is required to stimulate a person’s immune system to produce Ebola antibodies. Results from the clinical trial are expected in December 2014.

Canada retained roughly a third of its overall inventory of experimental vaccine vials for further research and compassionate use in Canada as needed.

The Government of Canada is committed to support its international partners’ efforts to control the Ebola outbreak and hopes that the experimental vaccine will be able to help address this global crisis.

Quick Facts

  • The vaccine will be shipped via air from Winnipeg to the University Hospital of Geneva via specialized courier.
  • The vaccine shipment will be sent in three separate shipments as a precautionary measure in the event that there is an accident during shipping, such as a temperature control failure. The vaccine must be packed in dry ice and kept at -80 degrees Celsius.
  • The vaccine is the product of more than 10 years of scientific research by Public Health Agency of Canada scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory.
  • This experimental Ebola vaccine has just begun clinical trials in humans, after showing very promising results in animal research.
  • Canada is taking a whole-of-government approach to fight the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. Canada has committed a total of $65.4 million to the global efforts to support health, humanitarian and security interventions to address the spread of the disease.
  • The Government of Canada maintains ownership of the intellectual property associated with the vaccine.
  • The Government of Canada has licensed the rights to NewLink Genetics through its wholly owned subsidiary BioProtection Systems to further develop the product for use in humans.
  • There has never been a case of Ebola in Canada and the risk to Canadians remains low.

“Canada views this experimental Ebola vaccine as a global resource and in the interest of global public health, we are sharing it with our international partners to help address the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.”
Honourable Rona Ambrose,
Minister of Health

“This vaccine, the product of many years of scientific research and innovation, could be an important tool in curbing the outbreak. We will continue to work closely with the WHO to address some of the ethical and logistical issues around using this experimental vaccine in the fight against Ebola.”
Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Related Products

Fact Sheet – Experimental Ebola Vaccine – VSV-EBOV

Fact Sheet – Ebola Virus Disease


Caption: Scientists at the National Microbiology Lab prepare the experimental Ebola vaccine for shipment to the WHO

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Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 957-2983

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