Speech Article from  Public Health Agency of Canada

Archived - Speaking Notes Dr. Gregory Taylor, Chief Public Health Officer - Clinical Trials of Ebola Vaccine

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October 13, 2014
Toronto, Ontario


Thank you Minister.

I would like to reiterate some of the Minister's comments.

Today we are announcing the start of Phase One clinical trials for our Ebola vaccine in healthy volunteers. These will be the first human clinical trials of the vaccine.

The vaccine is the product of years of research by dedicated scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Its development was funded in part by Defence Research and Development Canada.

The vaccine combines parts of the Ebola virus - only a portion of the protein covering, not the virus itself - with an animal virus called vesticular stomatitis virus.

When a person takes a vaccine, it prompts their immune system to start making antibodies. Antibodies work in our body by finding and then neutralizing foreign objects such as bacteria or viruses.

We usually take a vaccine to avoid getting sick. For example, every year we encourage people to get the flu vaccine, that way their body will develop antibodies towards the flu.

When they are exposed to the flu virus, their antibodies will attack it and they won't get sick or their flu will be much more mild in severity.

Animal studies suggest that the Ebola vaccine is very effective in helping prevent illness. Those same studies have also shown that the vaccine can help to prevent illness if it is taken immediately post-exposure, meaning if it is taken immediately after exposure to the Ebola virus.

The Phase One clinical trials that we are announcing today will be important in assessing whether the vaccine is safe for use in humans pre-exposure. It will also help determine the appropriate dosage or how much of the vaccine is needed to give people immunity.

I want to be clear that to do these clinical trials, no one will be at risk of getting Ebola. The vaccine does not contain any live virus.

The researchers conducting the trial will be asking about 40 healthy volunteers to take the Ebola vaccine.

Then a team of health care professionals will monitor them for side effects and take blood samples to see how effective the participants' immune systems are at making Ebola antibodies.

Results from the trials are expected in December 2014.

These clinical trials are an important step in addressing some of the ethical considerations around providing an experimental vaccine to assist in helping to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Additional clinical trials are currently being planned in Canada, Europe and Africa, outside the Ebola-affected region.

If these Phase One clinical trials are successful, then there will be larger trials in humans, and careful consideration will be given to doing trials in the Ebola-affected countries.

We will also be a step closer to having a vaccine that can be authorized for sale by drug regulators and made widely available to those who need it.

I want to take this opportunity again to remind Canadians that the risk to Canada remains very low.

We will continue to work with our partners in Canada and around the world to track Ebola, further develop the Ebola vaccine and to ensure Canadians are protected.

Thank you.

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