Canada to begin Ebola vaccine trials

This handout photo released by the World Health Organization on October 22, 2014 shows reception by Geneva University Hospital of a batch of experimental rVSV Ebola vaccine developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada (AFP Photo/Mathilde Missioneiro)

Ottawa (AFP) - Canada is starting trials of its experimental Ebola vaccine on a small group of people in the Atlantic port city of Halifax, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced Friday.

In a statement, she said the vaccine will be tested on 40 people aged 18 to 65 "to assess its safety, determine the appropriate dosage and identify any possible side effects."

Researchers also hope to determine whether lower doses of the VSV-EBOV vaccine induce an immune response in individuals, she said.

The trials coincide with others already underway in the United States at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile 800 doses of the vaccine have been shipped to Switzerland for testing by the World Health Organization (WHO).

There is no licenced treatment or vaccine against Ebola, which has killed more than 5,100 people in the outbreak centred in West Africa.

However, the UN health agency has identified two experimental vaccines that have shown promising results when tested on monkeys: the Canadian VSV-EBOV, licenced by US firm NewLink Genetics, and one made by British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The WHO said last month it hoped thousands of doses of the vaccines would be ready for use in badly hit African countries by early 2015.

The Canadian trial will be led by the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN).