The plan in Liberia is to test the two most advanced experimental vaccines in a three-armed trial involving 2,700 people. One third will receive a vaccine being made by GSK (formerly GlaxoSmithKline), one third will receive a vaccine being made by NewLink Genetics and Merck and the remaining portion will receive a placebo.
The NewLink-Merck vaccine was designed by researchers at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
The idea behind the trial is to give the vaccine to healthy people, and then watch to see how many in each arm develops Ebola. If many people in the placebo group become infected and none or few in the vaccine groups do, it would become clear that the vaccines were protective.
No Canadians have contracted the deadly virus since the recent outbreak in West Africa, but there are still many Winnipeggers working closely with it, either overseas or at home.
Since the outbreak, researchers from the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg have traveled to West Africa to help contain the spread.
Currently there is a team of four in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. They work from mobile laboratories, equipped to detect and kill the virus(??).
Microbiologist Dr. Jim Strong was one of the researches who worked overseas. “We’re right where the patients are,” says Dr. Strong. “We see the patients from where we’re doing the lab work. They get their results from the time we get the blood sample to the time they get their results is about three hours.”