GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has revealed that its Ebola vaccine won't be ready in time to deal with the current epidemic in west Africa.
The British pharmaceutical giant started developing the vaccine earlier this year, in conjunction with the US National Institutes of Health. It uses a single protein from the Ebola virus to set off an immune response, and is considered safe because it does not contain any infectious viral material.
Under normal circumstances, a vaccine would have to go through years of human trials before being approved for use, but the gravity of the current situation has led to the vaccine being fast-tracked. More than 4,500 people have been killed by the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the outbreak began in December last year.
In September, GSK said the hope was to immunise health workers in the affected countries by the end of 2014, but today the company's head of Ebola vaccine research indicated that this would not be possible because full data on its safety and efficacy would only become available in late 2015.
Dr Ripley Ballou told the BBC that working out dosage and effectiveness based on available data would take some time, meaning the vaccine would be “too late” to deal with this epidemic.
"We have to be able to manufacture the vaccine at doses that would be consistent with general use, and that's going to take well into 2016 to be able to do that," he said. "I don't think this can be seen as the primary answer to this particular outbreak.”
Shares in the company were immune to the news, however, rising 0.53 per cent to £13.31 in morning trading.
GSK is one of a number of pharmaceutical companies racing to create a cure for the disease.
Others include US company Mapp Biopharmaceutical, whose experimental Zmapp treatment has already been used on a number of patients, and Japanese company Ffujifilm, which is developing a treatment called Favipiravir.