By now, the Ebola virus has clasped its tentacles across West Africa and is beginning to show its tooth in the developed world. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the federal government have begun to share details about a vaccine that’s part of an experiment. The aim is to arrive at the Ebola vaccine which is supposed to be a donation to the people of Africa who have been subject
Dr Gary Kobinger who is chief of the special pathogens at the agency as also the Heritage Minister Shelly Glover declared of such a development and made more information available at a news conference in Winnipeg recently.
We have tried to accumulate as much information about the vaccine as we could-
No. of doses that will be sent
It has been made public that Canada will be donating anything between 800 to 1000 doses of the experimental vaccine. Also a very small amount of the vaccine will be left behind, in case need arises in the country, mentioned Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose in a special statement, few days back.
Why this sudden decision?
Now this decision to charitably donate vaccines of the Ebola virus was taken hours after the declaration of the World Health Organisation that it would be considered ethical to try and use treatments that have not been trialed before to combat the Ebola virus. The World Organisation also made it clear that such countries who offer experimental drugs or vaccines to patients who are ready to be administered with the same, must conduct a thourough research thereafter after having picked up sufficient data.
Who actually owns the vaccine?
The federal government hold the intellectual property rights of the vaccine though it has been developed by the scientists at the National Microbiology Lab and named the vaccine VSV-EBOV. The federal government also has licensed the rights of further development to BioProtection Systems, an American biotechnology company for further human use.
How does the vaccine work?
Kobinger mentioned that the vaccine can be administered to such humans who have not been exposed to the virus Ebola. In animal model drug administer its efficacy was determined even after exposure.
"It can have action on both sides, a little bit like the rabies vaccine," he mentioned.
The scientist, he says, who have been developing the vaccine do not necessarily comprehend the vaccine’s accurate mechanism. However there are various hypotheses that they have been going through and deducing information that can be applied.
One of the many hypotheses, is that an “extremely potent” vaccine
One hypothesis is that the "extremely potent" vaccine stimulates a quick immune response to safeguard the human against the virus in a sort of "race," he said.
Now this has another clause: this hypothesis is based on a model that believes that the human will be able to protect himself/herself if the individual’s immune system responds rapidly – faster than the growth of the virus.
Another second hypothesis that is also being taken into consideration is that the vaccine sort of competes with the virus for target cells, that replicate the virus.
Will this mechanism be safe?
"Safety is completely different than efficacy," Kobinger said. "The safety and efficacy of a vaccine don't necessarily go together, so you can't judge the safety based on efficacy."
The vaccine has been tested on animals and researchers have not found any serious adverse effects. One individual from Germany had also been given the vaccine and even he had not shown anything adverse. The efficacy and safety of the vaccine are tested separately.
Who will be the recipients of the vaccine?
Glover mentioned that the World Health Organisation will be deciding how and where to distribute such vaccines; essentially a panel of experts. She mentioned that the organization will decide which countries to send the vaccines to.
However, the issue of where these vaccines land up will not be political in nature Glover said.
"This is not a political decision at all," she said at Wednesday's news conference. "This is a very serious disease. This has taken the lives of many, many people, and we're doing our part as a country to provide assistance to the global community.
"This is a decision that will be made by experts and not politicians."
When will the vaccines be leaving Canada?
The vaccines will be leaving Canada all at once when the WHO decides how can these be distributed.
Will Canada be donating anything more?
Apart from these vaccines, Canada also has contributed a mobile lab that may be used for diagnostic testing and will be stationed at Sierra Leone.
A quick diagnosis will be an essential way to control the outbreak, medical officials feel.
"The real tools that have been proven (are) to be on the ground, to do rapid diagnostic (testing) and to isolate and to break the train of transmission," Kobinger said.
The mobile lab will allow doctors diagnose and treat people who have been infected in the proper environment, he added.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed over 1,000 people and now does involve four countries Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.