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Prof. David Evans - Possible that a successful GSK Ebola vaccine might help in this outbreak due to underestimating the number of cases

Following the announcement of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that a, currently under development, Ebola vaccine may not be ready for the current outbreak, Professor David Evans of the University of Warwick's Department of Life Sciences argues that it is "still possible that a successful GSK Ebola vaccine might help in this outbreak" due to the World Health Organisation (WHO) prediction that - by Christmas - new cases could number 10,000 per week.

Professor Evan's full comment:

The announcement today that the recombinant adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine in development by GSK will not be ready to combat the current outbreak is a major disappointment. GSK had originally hoped to fast-track the standard testing programme, compressing what would usually take a decade into as little as a year. However, the announcement makes the assumption that the current outbreak will be under control by “well into 2016”, the revised estimated date by which the vaccine could be ready for general use.

Despite the recent involvement of UK and US military personnel there remains a massive shortfall in the resources needed to control the outbreak in West Africa. Current reported cases and deaths are probably a two-fold (or greater) underestimate, and the WHO prediction is that - by Christmas - new cases could number 10,000 per week. The reality is that the aid effort is lagging well behind the spread of the infection and that the virus is getting increasingly well established in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This being the case, it is likely that even with massively increased aid the virus will take very many months or even years to control in West Africa. It is therefore still possible that a successful GSK Ebola vaccine might help in this outbreak.

Furthermore, the lessons learned by fast-tracking the trials for this vaccine will help prevent delays during future outbreaks of different strains of Ebola, or other known or new infectious diseases."

To speak with Professor Evans please contact:

Tom Frew - International Press Officer, University of Warwick;

a.t.frew@warwick.ac.uk

+44 (0) 2476575910

Professor David Evans;

D.J.Evans@warwick.ac.uk

Click here for more information on Professor Evans.