The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Friday announced the launch of a Canadian Phase I clinical trial for Canada’s Ebola vaccine (VSV-EBOV). The trial will be led by the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) and will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Image/Perry-Castañeda Library

In this trial, jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the experimental vaccine will be tested on a small group of people to assess its safety, determine the appropriate dosage, and identify any side effects. The trial will test whether lower doses of the vaccine can induce an immune response in an individual and will also generate valuable information about the use of the vaccine in older adults.

This vaccine trial is taking place concurrently with the trials in the United States in an effort to move onto further clinical trials in larger populations as quickly as possible. Trial results are expected in early 2015. Information from the trials will be shared with the international community as part of the global response to this crisis. In prior testing, the vaccine already showed promising results in animal research.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting international efforts to control the Ebola outbreak and ensuring that appropriate precautions and measures are in place to protect Canadians.

Minister Ambrose said, “Canada remains at the forefront of the global effort to fight this outbreak. The beginning of the Canadian Phase 1 clinical trials is an important step toward the development of Canada’s Ebola vaccine – the product of Canadian innovation and hard work. We’re confident that, if proven to be safe and effective in humans, it can be used in the near future to prevent the spread of this devastating disease.”

Quick Facts

  • CIHR is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. It supports more 13,200 researchers and trainees across Canada.
  • The Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) creates new capacity for timely evaluation of vaccines for a variety of infectious diseases, improves immunization programs and coverage nationwide, and builds strong links between the research community and key decision makers.
  • On November 3, 2014, the Government of Canada committed $23.5 million to support further research and development of Ebola medical countermeasures – namely Canada’s Ebola vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments. This funding will be used to support vaccine and treatment clinical trials in Africa.
  • The VSV-EBOV vaccine is the product of more than 10 years of scientific research by Public Health Agency of Canada scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory. This trial will complement others already underway, including one at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, and one at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The Canadian trial will examine lower dosing levels as well as the effect of the vaccine on older populations.
  • The VSV-EBOV vaccine does not contain a live Ebola virus. The vaccine only contains a portion of the protein covering the virus that would help the immune system produce antibodies. There is no risk that volunteers could contract the Ebola virus through participation in the trials.
  • Canada has committed a total of $65 million to the global efforts to support health, humanitarian, and security interventions to address the spread of the disease.
  • Canada has shipped 800 vials of the VSV-EBOV vaccine to the World Health Origination to help combat the outbreak in West Africa.
  • There has never been a case of Ebola in Canada.