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Serum institute to produce Ebola vaccine for use in Uganda outbreak, Health News, ET HealthWorld

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The Serum Institute India plans to produce 20,000 to 30,000 doses of the experimental one Ebola vaccine until the end of November for use in trials against the outbreak in Ugandaits developers and a company source said.

The response to the outbreak in Uganda has been blunted by the lack of a proven vaccine against the Sudanese strain of the virus.

There have been 54 confirmed cases and 19 deaths since last month, with the first case in the capital Kampala reported last week. But health authorities believe the real numbers could be higher.

Vaccines against the more common Zaire strain Ebola have proven highly effective during recent outbreaks in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, which developed a vaccine against COVID-19 AstraZenecahas an Ebola vaccine that has been shown in phase 1 trials to elicit an immune response to the Sudanese and Zairean strains.

Its developers said it could be rolled out in Uganda in clinical trials once authorities give regulatory approval.

“We are working very closely with the Serum Institute to rapidly ramp up production of this vaccine,” said Theresa Lambe, the Jenner Institute’s chief scientific adviser on Ebola.

“We hope to receive a large number of doses, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 or more by mid-to-late November,” she told Reuters.

A source at the Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and part of a conglomerate run by Indian billionaire Cyrus Poonawala, confirmed the information. The source said the Ebola vaccine doses would be supplied free of charge.

“Catch Up Game”

Ugandan Information Minister Chris Baryomuns said in an interview on Saturday that he had no information on the distribution of the vaccine, but that the outbreak was under control.

On the same day, President Yoweri Museveni said the government would impose a night-time curfew and restrict movement in and out of two Ebola-hit areas in central Uganda for 21 days.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that clinical trials of the two vaccines could begin in the coming weeks pending approval from the Ugandan government, without naming the vaccines.

According to the WHO, at least six vaccines against the Sudanese strain are in development, including three with phase 1 data.

Oxford researchers have expressed disappointment that their vaccine was not ready for distribution when the outbreak began, saying governments around the world have not made investment in vaccines a high enough priority in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vaccine has been in development for several years, but they say its progress in clinical trials has been slowed by a lack of funding.

“With more investment, the world could easily have vaccines ready in vials against this and a number of other diseases,” said Sandy Douglas, a researcher at the Jenner Institute.

“Now we’re spending a couple of months catching up on work that could have been done ahead of time.”

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