Ebola realities

Why new Ebola vaccines, treatments won't be ready in time for current crisis

Hope that experimental Ebola vaccines and therapies might help contain the current outbreak is sliding into hype as public health officials exaggerate how quickly new products could be deployed and minimize the uncertainties inherent in extrapolating success in animal studies to humans, according to Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Briefing reporters at a Sept. 5 press conference, Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director-general of the World Health Organization, said there is "a realistic hope" that blood transfusions from Ebola survivors, as well as experimental vaccines and therapies, will be available in time to help reverse the disaster in central Africa.

"There is a real opportunity that a blood-derived product can be used now and this can be very effective in terms of treating patients," Kieny said. She also expressed optimism that two vaccines, one of which just started Phase I trials and another that is slated for human safety studies next year, could be ready soon.

Kieny said: "We will have results of safety by November 2014 and, after that, these vaccines will start to be rolled out in the affected countries starting with healthcare workers and other front-line staff in the affected countries. So, this is real. This is going into the field. This is not staying in laboratories."

In an interview with BioCentury This Week television, Fauci said

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