British woman is first volunteer to test new Ebola vaccine

A former NHS nurse has become the first Briton to test a potentially life-saving new vaccine to tackle the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

Ruth Atkins was injected with the experimental drug this morning at Oxford University.

If successful, it will be used to treat patients in West Africa where the worst ever outbreak has now killed more than 2,500 people.

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Human trials of Ebola vaccine to take place in Oxford

The first human trials of a potential Ebola vaccine could begin in the Oxford as early as mid-September.

The candidate vaccine has been being developed by the US National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Funding from a consortium of British bodies has allowed the UK trials to be fast-tracked.

Medicins Sans Frontieres health workers at an Ebola treatment camp in Monrovia, Liberia Credit: REUTERS/2Tango

Professor Adrian Hill, who will be running the trials at Oxford University, said he was looking for 60 healthy individuals aged 18 to 50 to take part in the study. Volunteers will have to make nine visits over six months and will receive modest compensation for their time.

Unlike with vaccines for some other illnesses, it does not contain any infectious virus material, so it "cannot cause a person who is vaccinated to become infected with Ebola," GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement.

Manufacturers are planning to produce around 10,000 doses of the potential vaccine that will be distributed to "high-risk communities" if the trials prove successful. Other trials are being planned in the US, Gambia and Mali.

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