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Canada sends trial Ebola vaccine to W Africa

North American country sends up to a thousand doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to be distributed in West Africa.

Last updated: 13 Aug 2014 16:53
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The Ebola outbreak has now claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people [EPA]

Canada is sending up to 1,000 doses of an experimental vaccine to West Africa to help the World Health Organisation (WHO) fight the Ebola epidemic, the country's health minister announced.

Minister Rona Ambrose said on Wednesday between 800 to 1,000 doses would be distributed through the WHO in West Africa. Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Guinea have all reported cases.

Ambrose said the Canadian government was "committed to doing everything we can to support our international partners, including providing staff to assist with the outbreak response, funding and access to our experimental vaccine."

The VSV-EBOV vaccine was developed at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It has never been tested in humans, but has shown promise in animal research, according to the government, which licensed BioProtection Systems to further develop the product for use in humans.

The epidemic, the worst since Ebola was first discovered four decades ago, has killed more than 1,000 people since early this year.

There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, which the WHO has declared a global public health emergency.

To combat its spread, the WHO has authorised the use of experimental drugs.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, representatives of the Gulf monarchies met in the Saudi capital, Riyadh to discuss precautions against the Ebola epidemic ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in early October.

Saudi Health Minister Adel Fakieh hoped the meeting would lead to "practical and realistic measures, without exaggerating or minimising" the risks from the Ebola virus.

He said his ministry and other Saudi public health bodies were well prepared for the hajj season and were "taking account of the emergency situations" around the world.

The hajj pilgrimage, the world's biggest Muslim gathering, draws two million people to Saudi Arabia each year, including many from the West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

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