Hundreds of thousands of Ebola vaccine doses could reach Africa by mid-2015: WHO

This handout photo released by the World Health Organization on Oct 22, 2014, shows reception by Geneva University Hospital (HUG) of a batch of experimental rVSV Ebola vaccine developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada.&nbs
This handout photo released by the World Health Organization on Oct 22, 2014, shows reception by Geneva University Hospital (HUG) of a batch of experimental rVSV Ebola vaccine developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada. Ebola vaccine trials could start in west Africa in December, with hundreds of thousands of doses potentially being rolled out by mid-2015, the World Health Organisation said Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP PHOTO / WHO / MATHILDE MISSIONEIRO

GENEVA (AFP) - Ebola vaccine trials could start in west Africa in December, with hundreds of thousands of doses potentially being rolled out by mid-2015, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

"All is being put in place to start efficacy tests in the affected countries as early as December," said WHO assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny, adding that several hundred thousand doses could be available in the "first half" of next year.

Kieny spoke after the UN health agency held closed-door talks Thursday on potential vaccines with medical experts, officials from Ebola-affected nations, pharmaceutical firms and funding agencies.

Two experimental vaccines are seen as the leading candidates to beat Ebola.

Supplies of Canadian-discovered experimental vaccine rVSV are arriving in Geneva for a new round of trials.

Hopes are also centred on ChAd3, made by British company GlaxoSmithKline.

There are five other potential vaccines in the pipeline, Kieny said.

Whichever proves its mettle in trials, WHO hopes to deploy huge numbers of doses to Africa for "real-world" tests.

"Vaccine is not the magic bullet, but when ready, it may be a good part of the effort to turn the tide of the epidemic," Kieny said.