Swiss trial of Canadian Ebola vaccine suspended due to unexpected side-effects

Swiss researchers have temporarily halted a clinical trial of a Canadian-made Ebola vaccine after seeing an unexpected side-effect in a few people who received the serum.

Swiss researchers have temporarily halted a clinical trial of a Canadian-made Ebola vaccine after seeing an unexpected side-effect in a few people who received the serum.

Four of 59 people vaccinated so far in the Geneva-based trial reported pain in the joints of their extremities – fingers and toes – between 10 and 15 days after receiving the shot, researcher Dr. Angela Huttner said in an interview.

While the symptoms were mild, the team wanted to take some time to see what is going on before injecting additional volunteers, Huttner said.

“The reason we want to hold just for a few weeks is because this wasn’t expected. The other sites aren’t seeing this. We just want to know what’s going on before we do any more injections,” she said.

Several other trials are underway of this vaccine, designed by scientists at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and donated to the World Health Organization by the Canadian government.

It is also currently being tested at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in Bethesda, Md., and at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The licence for the vaccine was recently acquired by pharmaceutical giant Merck from NewLink Genetics, a small Iowa-based biotech company that had been developing the vaccine.

In some clinical trials volunteers receive either an active drug of vaccine or a placebo. But Huttner said it is known that all four reporting joint pain in this trial received vaccine.

Three received the lower of two doses being tested in Geneva; the dose received by the fourth is not known because that person is in a “blinded” part of the trial, where researchers will only learn after they analyze the trial’s results which dose he or she received.

The trial is schedule to resume on Jan. 5, the University Hospitals of Geneva – where the research is taking place – said in a press release.

Huttner said none of the four who experienced the side-effect has serious illness.

“I can tell you they are all doing really well. These are people who are working. They’re functioning just fine. These are very minor finding,” she said.

“In fact, in almost all of the cases they came for their scheduled visits. They didn’t call us urgently. These were things that we picked up.”

Huttner, who is an infectious diseases specialist, said people can experience joint pain after having a viral infection and after receiving some vaccines. It is commonly seen in women who are vaccinated against rubella, she said.

She said the team thinks this side-effect is likely an acceptable one, but wants to see how common it is and how severe it might be. A number of the people who have received the vaccine in this trial are not yet at day 15 after their vaccination.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard the HMCS Moncton for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton)
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Rode
Feddema adds size and grit to RDC basketball Queens

Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future… Continue reading

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in the sky over north Red Deer on Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Eric Fischer)
Photo: Planes criss-cross over Red Deer

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A man injects hydromorphone at the Providence Health Care Crosstown Clinic in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo responds to a question about vaccines during a weekly news conference, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Ottawa. Njoo says a faster vaccine ramp-up alone would likely not have thwarted the third wave of COVID-19 in many parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Evan Siddall is pictured in Ottawa on September 21, 2017. Former head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Evan Siddall has been named as the next chief executive for Alberta Investment Management Corp. He will succeed Kevin Uebelein. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims addresses the airline's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

The TMX broadcast centre is shown in Toronto on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

A man wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 checks his phone as the sun sets in English Bay in Vancouver on April 5, 2021. Canada's existing mobile phone services and consumer groups will get a landmark ruling from the CRTC this afternoon. The regulatory ruling could shift some of the market power held by Rogers, Bell and Telus, which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country's subscribers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

Most Read