A consortium set up to respond to the outbreak, including CEPI, Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ugandan public health authorities, have outlined a range of measures.
They include the ring vaccination trial that will deploy candidate vaccines, including the University of Oxford’s ChAdOx1 biEBOV jab, against Sudan ebolavirus which is causing an ongoing outbreak in Uganda. The aim of the trial is to minimise hospitalisations and deaths. There are currently no licensed vaccines against Sudan ebolavirus.
Oxford’s vaccine has been designed to generate an immune response against two species, Ebola virus and Sudan ebolavirus, and is based on the ChAdOx1 virus, a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that has been genetically modified so that it is impossible for it to replicate in humans. This vector has been previously used successfully in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine – or the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
ChAdOx1 biEBOV has previously undergone clinical trials in Oxford and Tanzania.
Teresa Lambe OBE, Professor of Vaccinology and Immunology at the Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, said: ‘The Sudan ebolavirus outbreak in Uganda, highlights the ongoing and pressing need for rapid responses to prevent outbreaks escalating further. We are delighted to be working with Serum Institute of India to scale up vaccine manufacture and help in the battle against Sudan ebolavirus.’
Sandy Douglas, Associate Professor at the Nuffield Department of Medicine's Jenner Institute, and lead on manufacturing scaleup for ChAdOx1 biEBOV, said: 'The Serum Institute of India used the University's adenovirus manufacturing techniques to make over a billion doses of Oxford's adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine. One of the key advantages of this vaccine is that it should be possible to produce it at very large scale, if needed, using the same tried-and-tested methods.'
Dr Dan Jenkin, Clinical Research Fellow at the Nuffield Department of Medicine's Jenner Institute, and who was also Principal Investigator of the previous phase I ChAdOx1 biEBOV vaccine trial, said: 'The WHO have recommended that our ChAdOx1 biEBOV vaccine and two other vaccines are taken forward into the planned Ebola vaccine trial in Uganda. No vaccines are currently approved to protect against Sudan ebolavirus so this clinical trial will be vitally important in answering whether vaccines can help control the outbreak.'
The Ugandan Ministry of Health has designated the Makerere University Lung Institute to lead the trial, which is co-sponsored by the ministry and WHO.
WHO, CEPI and Gavi are working to ensure that sufficient doses of candidate vaccines are available for the trial and beyond.
The WHO said in a statement: ‘By embedding research at heart of the outbreak response, we can achieve two goals: to evaluate potentially efficacious candidate vaccines, and to potentially contribute to end this outbreak, and protect populations at risk in the future.’
Two other candidate vaccines have been developed by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and MSD.