Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Vaccine bound for West Africa

Winnipeg lab donating hundreds of doses it developed

  • Print
Dr. Gary Kobinger, chief of special pathogens at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, says its not entirely known how the Ebola vaccine works.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Dr. Gary Kobinger, chief of special pathogens at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, says its not entirely known how the Ebola vaccine works. Photo Store

OTTAWA -- Up to 1,000 doses of an Ebola vaccine developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg will soon be on the way to West Africa to help stop the spread of the worst outbreak of the virus the world has ever seen.

"This is one of the many accomplishments of this world-renowned lab," Manitoba regional minister Shelly Glover said Wednesday at a news conference in Winnipeg.

Canada announced it would donate between 800 and 1,000 doses of the vaccine to the World Health Organization, which will decide who will get the doses and how they will be distributed.

"We hope this (decision) will happen as quickly as possible," said Glover. "In the meantime, they remain here in Winnipeg ready to go at a moment's notice."

The vaccine was developed by researchers at the Arlington Street lab and has shown to be 100 per cent effective in preventing lethal infection of Ebola in non-human primates. It has not been clinically tested in humans. However, experts from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization decided separately it was ethical to offer untested drugs to patients in West Africa.

The current outbreak began in Guinea last December and spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone. A small number of cases has also been diagnosed in Nigeria.

Nearly 2,000 people have been diagnosed with the Ebola virus and 1,069 deaths have been reported to date.

Ebola causes hemorrhagic fever in humans and animals and is spread through the transfer of contaminated bodily fluids, such as blood or saliva.

Dr. Gary Kobinger, chief of special pathogens for the National Microbiology Lab, said Wednesday the vaccine can be used in higher doses for people who have already been exposed to the virus, or in smaller doses for people who are at risk of exposure.

He said it's not entirely known yet how the vaccine works, although there are two main theories.

The first is the vaccine stimulates an immune response in the body that battles the virus in a race against time. The second theory is the vaccine competes with the virus for the same target cells, and if it wins that race, the virus is shut out.

Kobinger said no adverse reactions have been seen in primates, nor in the one human being who received the vaccine. In 2009, a lab worker in Germany was given the vaccine after she may have exposed herself to Ebola in a lab accident. She never developed Ebola but it was also not known if she actually came in contact with Ebola when she pricked her finger.

Glover stressed the decision on who will get the vaccine will be made by scientific experts, not politicians.

The vaccine is not the same as the drug used to treat two Americans and a Spanish priest who were diagnosed with Ebola after treating patients in Africa. That drug, known as ZMapp, is a serum, not a vaccine. It was developed in part by researchers at the Winnipeg lab, along with U.S. researchers.

The priest has died but the two Americans are alive and being treated in a hospital in Atlanta.

This is the second time in the last five years the Winnipeg lab has been called on to help with a vaccine for an immediate public-health threat. In 2009 it was ground zero in developing the vaccine for H1N1.

The lab is the only level-four biocontainment facility in Canada and is capable of handling the world's deadliest organisms, including Ebola.

Ten doses of the vaccine were already sent to Geneva to be used on relief workers.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 14, 2014 0

History

Updated on Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 6:52 AM CDT: Replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for Nov. 28-30

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose cools off Thursday in water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government subsidize Canadian airports?

View Results

Ads by Google