The man who heads much of Oxford’s Ebola research has set out a three point plan for tackling future outbreaks. Professor Adrian Hill was delivering the 6th Oxford London Lecture.
Speaking to a diverse crowd at the Church House Conference Centre, Professor Hill, Director of Oxford’s specialist vaccine research centre The Jenner Institute, explained both the progress made and the challenges encountered as he and his ten strove to test a viable Ebola vaccine.
Based on that experience, he then put forward his key points for improving the response to future outbreaks.
Warning that many diseases pose a threat – from MERS to West Nile Virus – he said that there were three key needs:
- Develop new vaccines, prove safety and immunogenicity (the ability to cause an immune response) and then stockpile them. He suggested that 10,000 to 20,000 doses would be sufficient to tackle small outbreaks – hitting them quickly to prevent the kind of spread seen with Ebola in West Africa.
- Deploy vaccines regionally to reduce outbreak risk. This might involve vaccinating medical staff, who in the early stages of an outbreak can inadvertently spread disease into their local community.
- Invest in vaccine manufacturing capability.
Summing up his lecture, Professor Hill said: ‘We need new vaccines, new deployment strategies and more manufacturing capacity.’
Meanwhile, the Jenner Institute continues its own research into vaccines for diseases as diverse as Flu, Prostate Cancer and Malaria.