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Wellness

Feds Give $43 Million To Fast Track Development Of Ebola Vaccines

Dec 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded contracts worth a total of about $43 million to NewLink Genetics Corp and GlaxoSmithKline Plc for faster development of two Ebola vaccines.

Under a $30 million contract, NewLink's unit BioProtection Systems Corp will conduct clinical trials to determine the lowest dose at which its vaccine generates an effective immune response, the HHS said. (http://1.usa.gov/1xJcwHi)

NewLink is developing the vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV-GP, with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc, which bought worldwide commercial rights for it in November.

The contract includes an option for additional funding of $41 million.

The HHS said the contract with GSK was worth $12.9 million with an option to raise the amount by $16,000.

GSK will establish and validate the initial material to start the manufacturing of its vaccine, ChAd3 EBO-Z. The company will also raise its manufacturing capacity to millions of doses from thousands currently.

The death toll from Ebola in the three West Africa countries hardest hit by the epidemic has risen to 7,518 out of 19,340 confirmed cases recorded there to date, the World Health Organization said on Monday. (Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

James and Tamah Mulbah
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Ebola survivor James Mulbah, 2, stands with his mother, Tamah Mulbah, 28, who also recovered from Ebola in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center, after a survivors' meeting on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia.
Benetha Coleman
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Ebola survivor Benetha Coleman, 24, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center after attending a survivors' meeting on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. She said that her husband and two children died due to the disease.
Jeremra Cooper
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Ebola survivor Jeremra Cooper, 16, wipes his face from the heat while in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The 8th grade student said he lost six family members to the Ebola epidemic before coming down sick with the disease himself and being sent to the MSF center, where he recovered after one month.
Zaizay Mulbah and Mark Jerry
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Ebola survivors Zaizay Mulbah, 34, and Mark Jerry, 30, right, stand together before their shifts as nurse's assistants at the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 12, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. Jerry was a money changer and Mulbah a delivery driver before they caught the disease and went to the center, where they recovered. Doctors Without Borders hired them afterward to counsel and comfort others stricken by the disease.
Eric Forkpa
John Moore via Getty Images
Ebola survivor Eric Forkpa, 23, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center after meeting with fellow survivors on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The college student, who is majoring in civil engineering, said he thinks he caught Ebola while caring for his sick uncle, who died of the disease. He spent 18 days at the center recovering from the virus.
Emanuel Jolo
John Moore via Getty Images
Ebola survivor Emanuel Jolo, 19, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center after a survivors' meeting on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The high school student lost six family members and believes he caught the disease while washing the body of his father, who died of Ebola.
Sontay Massaley
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Ebola survivor Sontay Massaley, 37, smiles upon her release from the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 12, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. Massaley, who spent 8 days recovering from the disease in the center, said she worked as a vendor in a market before contracting the virus.
Victoria Masah
John Moore via Getty Images
Ebola survivor Victoria Masah, 28, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. She said her husband and two children died of Ebola.
Abrahim Quota
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Ebola survivor Abrahim Quota, 5, stands outside the JFK Ebola treatment center after recovering from the disease on October 13, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. He had arrived at the treatment center 10 days before with his parents, who both died there from the virus. The Ministry of Health was to deliver him home after his release to live with relatives.
Lassana Jabeteh
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Ebola survivor Lassana Jabeteh, 36, smiles before his shift as a nurse's assistant at the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 12, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. He said that he previously worked as a taxi driver and that he thinks he caught Ebola when he transported a sick policeman who vomited in his car on the way to the hospital. Doctors Without Borders hired Jabeteh after he recovered in their treatment center and he now counsels and comforts others stricken by the disease.