Canadian Ebola Vaccine Sent to WHO for Testing

October 22, 2014 Ottawa – The first batch of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Canadian scientists was sent to Switzerland on Monday for testing by the World Health Organization (WHO). Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the first of three shipments, comprising 800 vials of the vaccine were packed in dry ice at a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit)  when it left the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Trials of the vaccine on humans are expected to begin in Switzerland at the end of the month or early in November, officials in Switzerland said. Separate clinical trials of the vaccine began in the United States last week

2014-1023 Canadian Ebola Vaccine Sent to WHO for Testing

EBOLA READINESS – An official of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) shows the various protection gear medical personnel would be wearing in the event of an Ebola outbreak in the country. The presentation was made at the Alabang, Muntinlupa office of the agency led by Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Dr. Julie Hall, country representative of the World Health Organization. (KJ Rosales)

There is no licensed treatment or vaccine against Ebola, which has killed more than 4,500 people in the outbreak centered in West Africa.

However, the UN health agency has identified two experimental vaccines that have shown promising results when tested on monkeys: the Canadian VSV-EBOV, licensed by US firm NewLink Genetics, and one made by British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The WHO said last month it hoped thousands of doses of the vaccines would be ready for use in badly hit African countries by early 2015.


As countries race to find an antidote for the killer virus, a UN staff member in Sierra Leone has died from Ebola – the third employee from the world organization to succumb to the deadly virus. The man, who worked as driver for the UN Women agency died Saturday, four days after he was placed on quarantine after his wife fell ill. She remains under care at an Ebola treatment center and a UN medical team is tracing all the people who came in contact with the driver.

A Sudanese national who worked as a UN health worker in Liberia died in Germany last week while a Liberian woman died of probable Ebola last month.


It may be grim, but Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chair Richard Gordon said the agency is sending body bags to West African countries suffering from the Ebola outbreak as a humanitarian gesture being a member of the international community.

West African countries complained about a shortage of body bags.

Gordon did not say how many is the PRC sending but said the agency has enough stocks.


As the planned repatriation of Filipinos working in Ebola-affected countries looms, a group of physicians want returning OFWS to get exit clearance from the host country certifying that they are Ebola-free.

Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) President Dr. Anthony Leachon said Philippine airports must be prepared for the returning OFWs set by mid-November and even until the Papal visit in January.

According to Leachon, an exit screening from West Africa is important for the repatriated Filipinos to ensure they are not infected with the virus that has already killed 4,555 and affected 9,216, the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Leachon said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) could suggest to West African host countries to conduct blood tests and initiate quarantine for 21 days for the returning OFWs before they are allowed to travel back to the country.

“We have several airports and ports of entry and imagine if you don’t know where the OFW is coming in. So my suggestion is, there should be just one point of entry,” Leachon added.

Upon returning to the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) could require another seven day quarantine for the returning OFWs just to make sure they are Ebola-free.


The DOH said it is ready to handle Ebola in the event that the virus reaches our shores.

The Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) which was in the forefront of global threats like the SARS Coronavirus in 2003, the Pandemic Influenza H1N1 and Ebola-Reston in 2009 – has been designated recently as the National Referral Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Having managed previous global public health emergencies, the RITM has become better-equipped with rapid detection technology, laboratory, hospital facilities, and trained personnel in responding to the threat of new infectious disease agents,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said.


RITM has developed a triage system for suspected Ebola cases – process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition.

When a patient arrives at RITM, he will be taken by the entrance guard to the screening area outside the RITM where he will be interviewed by a research assistant who is wearing a medical mask.

“All patients coming in from outside will be screened here regarding their reason for consultation as well as their travel history. Patients will be asked whether they travel over the past three weeks in West Africa or in the last two weeks,” said Dr. Mark Kristoffer Pasayan, an infectious disease specialist at RITM.

If the patient said he has travelled to Ebola-affected countries, he will be considered a Person Under Investigation (PUI). If not, he will be brought to the appropriate clinic.

The Ebola team will then proceed to the Triage Area with the PUI. There are six negative pressure rooms at RITM.

A negative pressure room, which prevents the spread of infectious agents from the suspected cases, has a ventilation system that generates negative pressure to allow air to enter the isolation room but not escape the room. Pasayan, however, stressed that Ebola is not an airborne disease and they just want to maximize the use of the facility.

“Yes, it’s not airborne the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] mandates that it is not airborne. But we are just stepping it up because we have the facility. We also have isolation rooms,” he told Manila Bulletin.

The RITM has 50 beds, eight of which are negative pressure rooms.


To ensure the safety of health workers, they will be geared with personal protective equipment (PPE). The PPEs includes gloves, fluid resistant or impermeable gown, eye protection like goggles or face shield and face mask. Other PPEs may also be required in certain situations – like when there are copious amounts of blood, other body fluids, vomit, or feces present in the environment. These are double gloving, disposable shoe cover and coverall.

 (Source: Manila Bulletin, with reports from Roy C. Mabasa and Jenny F. Manongdo)

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