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Fact Sheet - VSV-EBOV - Canada's Experimental vaccine for Ebola

Science behind the vaccine

VSV-EBOV is an experimental EbolaExternal Link vaccine discovered by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML).

Animal studies suggest that the experimental vaccine could prevent Ebola infection when used before and also immediately after exposure to the Ebola virus.

When a person takes a vaccine, it prompts their immune system to start making antibodies. Antibodies work in our body by finding and then neutralizing foreign objects such as bacteria or viruses.

The experimental vaccine is based on an animal virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that is combined with a portion of the protein covering of the Ebola virus. When administered, it induces an immune response against the Ebola virus. It does not contain a live Ebola virus. There is no risk that volunteers could contract the Ebola virus through participation in the trials.

Discovery of the vaccine

The discovery of the Ebola vaccine was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Safety and Security Program and required collaboration with government departments, investment by private industry and importantly, international partnerships.

The intellectual property rights for the vaccine belong to the Government of Canada. However, NewLink, a private company that owns the licensing rights to the vaccine, has the responsibility to produce mass quantities and to bring the vaccine to clinical trials.

Clinical Trials, Further Vaccine Research and Development

The vaccine is currently in clinical trials in CanadaExternal Link, the United States, Europe and Africa. Results are expected in 2015.

On November 3, 2014, the Government of Canada committed $23.5 million to support research and development of the Ebola vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments for Ebola.

The funding will be used to support clinical trials to test the vaccine's safety and efficacy. It will also be used to create a stockpile of the vaccine for use in Canada in the event of a case of Ebola and to assist in the outbreak response in West Africa.

International collaboration

On August 12, 2014, the Government of Canada announced a donation of its experimental vaccine to the WHO.

In October 2014, the Government of Canada shipped 800 vials of its experimental Ebola vaccine to the WHO in Geneva, fulfilling the Government's vaccine donation commitment to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Public Health Agency of Canada supplied the vaccine to the WHO in its role as the international coordinating body for the Ebola outbreak, so that the vaccine can be made available as an international resource. The WHO has entrusted the donated vials to the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève for storage and to conduct clinical trials in Europe and Africa.