Experimental Canadian Ebola vaccine starts human tests

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A health worker takes Benson, 2 months, from his mother to carry him to a re-opened Ebola holding center in the West Point neighborhood on October 17, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. The baby, his mother and grandmother were all taken to the center after an Ebola tracing coordinator checked their temperature and found they all had fever. A family member living in the home had died only the day before from Ebola. The West Point holding center was re-opened this week with community support, two months after a mob overran the facility and looted it's contents, denying the presence of Ebola in their community. The World Health Organization says that more than 4,500 people have died due to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa with a 70 percent mortality rate for those infected with the virus. (John Moore/Getty Images)

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Montreal (AFP) - An experimental Ebola vaccine developed in Canada will be tested on humans, in hopes of eventually rolling it out to fight the outbreak in West Africa, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Monday.

In a first phase of clinical trials, the vaccine will be administered to twenty volunteers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in the United States, to test dosage, effectiveness and any side effects.

Initial results from the vaccine, VSV-EBOV, developed by researchers at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, will be available in December, Ambrose told a news conference in Calgary.

Ambrose said she hoped "advancing research on this experimental vaccine will be able to help address this global crisis."

In August, Canada gave nearly 1,000 doses of the vaccine to the World Health Organization, but they remain in Winnipeg and the WHO has not decided whether or not to use them.

Ambrose said Monday that the clinical trials "are an important step in addressing some of the ethical considerations around providing an experimental vaccine to assist in controlling the outbreak.”

So far, the Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 4,000 lives this year out of more than 7,300 infected, mainly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.