GENEVA - Switzerland's drug regulator said on Tuesday it had approved the testing of an experimental Ebola vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline on healthy volunteers, some of whom will be traveling to West Africa as medical staff. The trial will be conducted among 120 volunteer participants at the Lausanne University Hospital, with support from the World Health Organization.
The volunteers, who include many medical students, will be monitored for six months. There is a small control group of volunteers among them who will be given a placebo. "Fifty front-line humanitarian workers going into the field will receive the vaccine. The other 70 are not being deployed and of those 20 will receive the placebo and 50 the vaccine," said hospital spokesman Darcy Christen. "Volunteers going into the field will not receive the placebo, for ethical reasons."
There are currently no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola but drugmakers are seeking to fast-track the development process. The GSK vaccine, which is already undergoing safety tests in Britain, the United States and Mali, is one of two leading vaccine candidates now in early human testing.
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