The development and delivery of safe and effective vaccines would make a huge contribution to containing Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as improving responses to future outbreaks and providing a model for vaccine development against other emerging infectious disease, the expert group has concluded.
The panel of 26 international experts, convened by the Wellcome Trust and the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, explains how the substantial scientific, financial, social and logistical challenges to rapid Ebola vaccine development and deployment can be overcome through collaboration between governments, industry and philanthropic bodies.
It highlights the potential need for multiple Ebola vaccines with different characteristics, which might enable different vaccination strategies such as ring-vaccination to prevent an outbreak from spreading, and prophylactic vaccination of high-risk individuals such as healthcare workers. It sets out the qualities that a successful vaccine should have and a set of principles for trial design.
The road map also emphasises the importance of community engagement so that vaccine trials and delivery programmes are positively received, and the need for such engagement campaigns to be adapted to national and local circumstances.
The recommendations are made in the interim report of Team B, which is co-chaired by Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Professor Michael Osterholm, Director of CIDRAP. A full report will be published in the coming weeks, and the guidance will be a "living document" that evolves over time.
The group is called "Team B" in recognition of the principal role played by the World Health Organisation and national governments in leading the international Ebola response.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and co-chair of Team B, said: "As Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone make encouraging progress in containing Ebola, we must not lose sight of the immense contribution that a safe and effective vaccine would make towards controlling both this and future epidemics. We need urgent global collaboration between governments, industry and philanthropy to ensure candidate vaccines progress through trials to manufacture and delivery as swiftly as possible.
"The draft road map we publish today, agreed by a global group of experts, offers solutions to the great scientific, social, logistical and financial challenges of delivering an Ebola vaccine on this urgent timescale. It is a living document that will evolve as we learn more about Ebola and the candidate vaccines that are available. As well as being of great value in the present crisis, it will enable vaccine strategies to begin without delay in future outbreaks, and provide a model for vaccine development in response to other emerging infectious diseases."