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Scientists Researching Ebola Virus Say Vaccine 'Unlikely' Due To Funding Restraints

“Scientists researching the lethal Ebola virus have told [BBC News] that a commercial vaccine to prevent the onset of infection may never be developed,” the news service reports. “Efforts to develop a vaccine have been funded in the main by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health,” which “have poured millions of dollars into scientific research because of concerns that the virus could be turned into a biological weapon,” the news service writes. But in recent days, two companies that had begun human safety trials of their vaccines, Sarepta and Tekmira, “have been told by the Defense Department to temporarily stop work on their vaccines due to funding constraints.”

“There is also a big concern over the lack of a large pharmaceutical company which might be willing to develop and market a vaccine for Ebola,” BBC notes, adding, “Others are even more skeptical on the basis of the science.” Larry Zeitlin, president of Mapp Biopharmacueticals, a small company involved in the development of a therapy for Ebola, “says that the challenges in developing a working therapy and worries over a mass inoculation program will severely limit any prospective Ebola vaccine,” the news service writes. According to BBC, “[i]t is expected that a decision to either resume testing or completely terminate the contracts will be made by early September.” The news service notes “an outbreak in western Uganda claimed the lives of at least 16 people” in recent weeks (McGrath, 8/15).