Can GlaxoSmithKline’s Ebola vaccine be used to stop the epidemic sweeping west Africa?
The head of Ebola vaccine research at GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) told the BBC on Friday that the company’s treatment that is now being tested isn’t likely to be “the primary answer to this particular outbreak.”
Successful development and testing to make sure the vaccine is safe and works will “come too late” for the current outbreak, Dr. Ripley Ballou said.
The vaccine is currently being tested, but Ballou said “It normally takes seven to 10 years to develop a vaccine.” Safety and efficacy results won’t be available until late next year, he added. Even so, GSK is attempting to compress “trials that would normally take up to 10 years into just 12 months,” the BBC said.
Ballou did concede that GSK could have begun accelerating development of the vaccine earlier. GSK talked with the World Health Organization in March but he said a decision was made jointly not to do so.
“No-one anticipated we would need a vaccine,” said Dr Ballou. “And so both internally and, I think at the WHO, we felt the best approach was to watch very closely.”
Today, he noted, “I think in retrospect we should have pulled that trigger earlier.
“But, you know, it is what it is and we are working very closely with WHO.
“There shouldn’t be any finger pointing around this.”
More than 4,500 people have died.
Two RTP-based companies, Chimerix and BioCryst, also are developing potential vaccines. The Chimerix treatment has been given to two Ebola patients in the U.S., one of whom died. The FDA approved the use and has fast-tracked the Chimerix product.
GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP.
GSK maintains a website with latest developments about its vaccine.