Belgian Ebola vaccine tested on humans in the UK

Johnson & Johnson, the American parent company of Belgium's Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, has started tests on humans using a vaccine developed in Belgium.

72 volunteers aged between 18 and 50 are getting the vaccine in a test conducted by Oxford University. Two doses of the vaccine are being administered. The test vaccines contain genes belonging to proteins of the Congolese strain of the Ebola virus.

Tests should show whether the vaccine is safe and doesn't cause any side effects. Earlier tests on monkeys showed that the vaccine provided complete protection against Ebola.

Johnson & Johnson has speeded up the test programme because of the current Ebola crisis. Further tests are planned in the US and three African nations where Ebola has not been recorded. If tests prove effective the vaccine could be used in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as early as mid-2015. The company could produce 2 million doses by the end of the year.