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US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson today said it would spend up to USD 200 million to speed up and expand its Ebola vaccine program, with testing slated to begin in January. Johnson & Johnson said its unit Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies was closely working with the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as other key stakeholders, governments and public health authorities on the program.
The proposed vaccine regimen combines a Janssen preventative vaccine with a vaccine from Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company based in Denmark. The vaccine combination was discovered in a collaborative research program between Janssen and the National Institutes of Health. 'This combination vaccine regimen has shown promising results in preclinical studies, and is now planned to be tested for safety and immunogenicity in healthy volunteers in Europe, the United States of America and Africa starting in early January,' said J&J in a statement. (Read: 10 reasons that make the Ebola virus deadly for humans)
Janssen plans to produce more than one million doses of the vaccine regimen in 2015, and 250,000 of them are expected to be released for broad application in clinical trials by next May. 'We are urgently working to provide our vaccine expertise, production capabilities, our people and resources to address the Ebola crisis,' said Alex Gorsky, J&J's chairman and chief executive.
'Our innovation model enables us to quickly mobilize our extensive resources to collaborate with health authorities and governments and other experts to help contain this disease, save lives, and protect the health and lives of those at risk.' The spreading Ebola virus outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people since the start of the year, almost all of them in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Shares in Dow member J&J were up 1.0 per cent at USD 101.36 in late-morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Read: What is the Ebola virus disease survival rate?)
How the Ebola virus spreads in humans?
It spreads through infected body fluids: Ebola spreads from one infected person to the other through direct contact of the skin and other bodily fluids. The virus is present in the body fluids of an infected person which includes blood, semen, sweat, urine, saliva, feaces, vomit, etc. If a healthy person comes in contact with the infected body fluids that enters his system through open wounds, blood transfusions or through the eyes, ears, mouth, nostrils, genital area, it can infect an individual within a span of two to 21 days depending on the severity of the viral attack. Having unsafe sex with an infected person also can lead to the viral infection.
It can spread through direct skin to skin contact: One major reason why healthcare workers and immediate family members of infected Ebola victims were falling prey to the same in the infected areas is due to direct skin to skin contact with the patients. This is because the virus can be easily transmitted through an exchange of bodily fluids like sweat, saliva, etc. However, remember the virus would not spread only through casual contact. There has to be a medium for the transmission to take place and in case of a skin-to-skin contact it is either sweat, saliva, blood or other body fluids. It is advisable to take proper precautions if you need to be around a victim at any given point of time. Using protective equipment like gloves, masks and protective units is recommended to prevent the virus from spreading to a healthy individual. Read more about How the Ebola virus spreads in humans
With inputs from PTI
Photo source: Getty images
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