By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Human trials start this week on an Ebola vaccine developed by local pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

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GSK has been working on the vaccine for some time as part of its bio-security collaboration with federal defense and health officials, according to Donna Altenpohl, vice president for public policy:

“This has become such a critical public health trauma, everybody’s pulling together  to try to combat this disease.”

That includes fast-tracking Phase I safety trials. The first three participants will get the injection this week and researchers will carefully watch them before continuing the trial.

In all, 220 people in the U.S., Britain and West Africa will test it.

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“The vaccine itself does not contain infectious Ebola virus material, so, therefore, it cannot cause a person who’s vaccinated to become infected,” Altenpohl says.

She says researchers are checking for side effects and to see if the vaccine does cause humans to become immune to the virus.

Phase 2 and 3 trials are also planned, but Altenpohl says GSK is already planning to manufacture 10,000 doses:

“So in the event that it will be used for emergency use, for example, health care workers or those at high risk in West Africa, then we’ll have the capacity to do that.”

Health officials estimate 1,400 people have died in the current outbreak.

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