On November 14, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that Canada would finally begin conducting clinical testing of its Ebola vaccine.
However, in a surprising turn of events, it had been additionally confirmed that testing for the vaccine will be conducted in Halifax, not Winnipeg, the city in which the vaccine was created.
The trial, which will be conducted by the IWK Health Centre, aimed to have 40 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 and offered $1,125 dollars to anyone who would agree to commit to 11 visits so the effects of the vaccine can be documented.
Discussing the vaccine, Dr. Scott Halperin, who is one of the main doctors overseeing the clinical trials explained what to expect during the clinical observations.
“As an early phase study, they will be doing a number of visits with us intensely over a period of a month. But then over an even longer term follow-up visit six months later”.
Halperin also touched on the growing concern over the vaccine in a press release, reassuring Canadians that, “It’s not a live Ebola vaccine, it’s another virus called the VSV virus, which has been manipulated to have it express one of the proteins of Ebola. So one can’t get Ebola from the vaccine”.
“We know with the vaccine you can get fever, you might get a sore arm or flu-like illness, but part of the study is that we’re trying to measure these side effects and find out what they are, so the risk is doing something with a new vaccine”.
Additionally, those eligible to conduct the experiment must agree prior to abide by the restrictions set in place by the medical staff which states that,
- Women can’t be pregnant or breast-feeding.
- All of those conducting the survey must use condoms during length of study.
- No open mouth kissing during the study Must not be a health care workers with direct patient contact.
- Must not be a child care worker who have contact with children under five-years-old.
- Does not handle food or work at a restaurant as employment
- Cannot have routine contact with farm animals.
Despite several members of the original Winnipeg-based team making negative remarks surrounding being excluded from the trial, Harpelin remarked on why Halifax was chosen as the site for the study.
“The early phase studies need very close monitoring of the participants and they need to be done in a very efficient manner and the site here in Halifax, the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, is experienced in doing early phase clinical trials. It’s the perfect place to do a phase one study.”
Regardless of the controversy over the vaccine and where it is being tested, hopefully Canada can finally get their vaccine tested and ready for use in Ebola-plagued regions.