Nova Scotia

Ebola vaccine clinical trial in Halifax overwhelmed with volunteers

A clinical trial for Canada's Ebola vaccine will take place in Halifax, the federal government announces.

Study looking for healthy people between the ages of 18 and 65 and will pay over $1,100

The IWK Health Centre in Halifax is looking for 40 generally healthy people between the ages of 18 and 65 to volunteer for the Ebola vaccine clinical trial. (The Associated Press)

A clinical trial for Canada's Ebola vaccine will take place in Halifax and there is no shortage of people wanting to participate.

The federal government announced Friday the experimental vaccine will be tested on a small group of people to assess its safety, determine the appropriate dosage and identify side effects.

The IWK Health Centre in Halifax was looking for 40 generally healthy people between the ages of 18 and 65, the hospital told CBC News.

A hospital spokesperson said the trial will begin as soon as 40 volunteers are gathered. By mid-afternoon, 30 people had already signed up. If accepted, they will be paid $1,125 reimbursement for their time and must commit to 11 visits.

"As an early phase study, they will be doing a number of visits with us intensely over a period of a month. But then over an even longer term followup visit six months later," said Dr. Scott Halperin, one of three doctors overseeing the clinical trial.

Halperin, who is the director for the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology and the lead investigator for the Canadian Immunization Research Network, said the trial is a phase one study to look at the vaccine.

He said the vaccine doesn't contain the live Ebola virus and there's no risk that volunteers could contract the virus by participating in the trial.

"It's not a live Ebola vaccine, it's another virus called the VSV virus, which has been manipulated to have it express one of the proteins of Ebola. So one can't get Ebola from the vaccine," he said.

There are few known side effects, but the study will also try to find out what others there may be.

"We know with the vaccine you can get fever, you might get a sore arm or flu-like illness, but part of the study is that we’re trying to measure these side effects and find out what they are, so the risk is doing something with a new vaccine," he said.

Restrictions for participants

There are some restrictions for people who want to participate in the study:

  • Women can't be pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Must use condoms during length of study.
  • Avoid open mouth kissing.
  • No health care workers with direct patient contact.
  • No child care workers who have contact with children under five years old.
  • Does not prepare food in the food industry.
  • No routine contact with farm animals.

Jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the trial will test whether lower doses of the vaccine can induce an immune response in an individual.

The vaccine, known as VSV-EBOV, is also being tested in the United States in an effort to move onto further clinical trials in larger populations as quickly as possible, said the agency.

Halperin said Halifax was the ideal place to launch the study.

"The early phase studies need very close monitoring of the participants and they need to be done in a very efficient manner and the site here in Halifax, the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology is experienced in doing early phase clinical trials," he said.

"It's the perfect place to do a phase one study."

Trial results are expected in early 2015.