WHO: Second high-level meeting on Ebola vaccines access and financing – 8 January 2015

WHO: Second high-level meeting on Ebola vaccines access and financing
Date: 8 January 2015
Place: Geneva, Switzerland
About the meeting
On 8 January 2015, WHO will convene the second high-level meeting on Ebola vaccines access and financing. The meeting will review the current status of clinical trials of Ebola vaccines and plans for Phase II and Phase III efficacy trials. ‘

Also on the agenda are discussion of funding mechanisms for potential Ebola vaccine introduction and the process for decision-making on introduction beyond Phase III trials. This meeting is a follow-up to the First high-level meeting on Ebola vaccines access and financing held on 23 October 2014.
Participants of the meeting

The meeting will be chaired by Professor Helen Rees, University of Witwatersrand and Co-Chair of the SAGE Ebola Vaccine Working Group. Participants include representatives from manufacturers and research institutions that are currently developing or testing Ebola candidate vaccines, government officials from the Ebola-affected and neighbouring countries, and nongovernmental organizations and partners.

Meeting documents
Agenda of the meeting
pdf, 266kb
List of participants
pdf, 120kb

WHO Director-General opens high-level meeting on Ebola vaccines
8 January 2015
Distinguished experts,
Good morning and welcome to this second high-level meeting on Ebola vaccines access and financing. I thank you again for giving us your expertise and your time.

I will be brief. You have given yourselves some very tight deadlines and are moving ahead quickly. In fact, what you are doing is unprecedented: compressing into a matter of months work that normally takes 2 to 4 years, yet with no compromise of international standards of safety and efficacy.

We are here to take stock, plan the next steps, and make sure that all partners are working in tandem. We all want the momentum and sense of urgency to continue. We want to spot potential bottlenecks early and iron out any difficulties that could slow things down. Even the highest ambitions become feasible with determination and good planning.

Previous experts agreed that vaccines will have an impact on the Ebola epidemic in any future scenario, whether worst-case or best-case. I see no indication that this view has changed.

In terms of the dynamics of the outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, last year did not end with a best-case scenario. Too many health care workers are still getting infected, including nationals and doctors and nurses from foreign medical teams.

The situation in Liberia looks far more promising than it did in October and November, with cases showing a persistent decline and smaller geographical distribution. But transmission in Monrovia continues, with cases scattered throughout the city, making it difficult to identify distinct transmission chains. Many believe that the virus has moved from the cities into extremely remote rural areas, making it difficult to see what is really happening in Liberia.
Sierra Leone has now outstripped Liberia as the worst-affected country. Several hundred cases are being reported each week.

During the third week in December, Guinea reported nearly 160 confirmed cases, the highest weekly case incidence in the year-long history of the outbreak there.

The wide geographical dispersion of cases remains a problem. Whereas only 7 prefectures reported cases in October, that number had grown to 17 by mid-December.

Ladies and gentlemen,
During this meeting, you will take a look at safety and immunogenicity data emerging from Phase 1 clinical trials of two candidate vaccines and review the status of other vaccines.

It is my understanding that no major safety signals have been reported to date. Trials of the Merck vaccine have restarted after a pause at the end of December.

You will look at vaccine pipelines and consider the plans of companies to extend the safety database during Phase 2 evaluation.

Critically important will be your discussion of preparations for Phase 3 efficacy trials in the three countries, using different trial designs that can take our knowledge base some big steps forward.

We will seek clarity on roles and responsibilities and how to coordinate the different actions. We also need some hard thinking about implementation challenges and how to overcome them.

Financing and implementation of vaccination campaigns are covered in session 4.

You will hear from GAVI and others about planned investments and from WHO’s experienced Ebola fighter, Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele.

Okwo will propose some triggers that can guide decisions about when and how to launch vaccination campaigns.

I think all of us have high expectations for the outcome of this meeting.

As a WHO staff member who has spent several months in Guinea recently observed, what people need most is hope.

They have watched families and communities torn apart by this virus for a year and are close to despair.

You can give them some of that hope.
Thank you.

WHO Press Releases
:: No Ebola cases detected in Iraq
6 January 2015 — The Ministry of Health in Iraq, in collaboration with WHO, confirms that there is no suspected case of Ebola virus disease in Iraq as of 5 January 2015.
:: New UNMEER chief arrives in Liberia to assess Ebola response
6 January 2015 — The new Head of UNMEER, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, arrived in Liberia as part of his first tour of the affected countries.