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IDRC supports WHO clinical trial of Ebola vaccines

June 13, 2023
The World Health Organization has received a grant of CAD4.85 million from three Canadian funding agencies — IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada — in response to the 2022 Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
An image of people around a table with one person receiving an injection.
On the quest for a Sudan Ebolavirus vaccine, a trial team undergoes a rigorous vaccination training simulation at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, fueling hope and determination.

There is no known treatment or vaccine for the Sudan strain of Ebola that caused this outbreak, which resulted in 164 cases and 77 deaths. However, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, Uganda was able to successfully control the outbreak. It was officially declared over on January 11, 2023.

The WHO, IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada recognize that more can be done to save lives in the event of future outbreaks. This grant to the WHO will help to facilitate the incorporation of research and development into the initial response to outbreaks, ensuring access to life-saving medical countermeasures in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Specifically, the grant will be used to conduct a multistage and multiple-arm randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial to assess the safety and immunogenicity of three candidate vaccines: cAd3 from Sabine Institute, USA; chAdOx1 from Oxford University, UK; and rVSV-SUDV from Merck/International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). These candidate vaccines were recommended for clinical studies by an independent vaccine prioritization committee convened by the WHO in November 2022.

The study is anticipated to span 24 months and involve approximately 6,000 participants. A Data Safety Monitoring Committee comprising a group of independent experts will regularly assess the progress and safety data of this study.

The project also aims to build national clinical trial capabilities to respond to future outbreaks, as well as strengthen local and global capabilities for clinical research on vaccines for priority diseases.

This grant is a significant investment in the fight against Ebola and other infectious diseases. It will help to ensure that countries at risk of outbreaks have the tools and resources they need to respond quickly and effectively.