First UK volunteer receives experimental Ebola vaccine

Virologists researching on the ebola virus in a laboratory

An experimental Ebola vaccine has been tested in the first healthy UK volunteer, as part of a phase I clinical trial being conducted at the University of Oxford.

The trial was given the go ahead in August 2014 and will test a vaccine against the Zaire strain of Ebola in 60 healthy UK volunteers. If this proves successful, 100 more volunteers will test the vaccine at research centres in the US, The Gambia and Mali.

Completion of the phase I clinical trial is expected by the end of 2014 and, if the vaccine proves safe and effective, it will be manufactured and rolled out to at-risk populations on a much larger scale.

The vaccine has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the US National Institutes of Health, while funding for the trial has come from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the UK Department for International Development.

The first volunteer, Ruth Atkins, a communications and engagement manager in the NHS from Marcham, Oxfordshire, received the vaccine in her upper arm on the morning of 17 September 2014.

“I feel absolutely fine, it felt no different to being vaccinated before going on holiday,” she commented.

The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is the most widespread on record and has led to the fast-tracking of clinical trials of therapies that could reduce the spread of the deadly viral disease.

Efforts to control the spread of Ebola have increased since the outbreak became a public health emergency of international concern. The US announced on 16 September 2014 that it will deploy military personnel to coordinate the response to the outbreak in West Africa, as well as building Ebola treatment units.


  • This story was updated on 17 September 2014 to include the latest information about the first volunteer in the trial.
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 27 September 2014, Vol 293, No 7829;293(7829):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066510

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