Serum Institute to produce Ebola vaccine for use in Uganda outbreak

The Serum Institute of India plans to manufacture 20,000 to 30,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine by the end of November for use in trials against an outbreak in Uganda, its developers and a company source said.

The response to Uganda's outbreak has been blunted by the absence of a proven vaccine against the Sudan strain of the virus. There have been 54 confirmed cases and 19 deaths since last month and the first case in the capital, Kampala, was recorded last week. But health authorities believe the actual numbers could be higher.

Vaccines against the more common Zaire strain of Ebola have proven highly effective during recent outbreaks in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Oxford University, which developed a COVID-19 vaccine with AstraZeneca (AZN.L), has an Ebola vaccine that has been shown to induce an immune response to both the Sudan and Zaire strains in Phase 1 trials.

Its developers said they were working with the Serum Institute to manufacture doses that could be deployed in Uganda as part of a clinical trial once the authorities there gave regulatory approval.

"We are hoping to have a large number of doses, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 or more by mid-to-end of November," Teresa Lambe, the chief scientific investigator on Oxford's Ebola vaccine, told Reuters.

A source at the Serum Institute, the world's biggest vaccine maker and part of a conglomerate run by Indian billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla, confirmed this information. The source said the Ebola vaccine doses would be supplied free of cost.

(Source; Reuters)