Novavax has begun enrolling healthy human volunteers in a Phase I clinical trial of its Ebola vaccine.

The move follows an expedited development programme which has seen the firm develop its vaccine, scale-up GMP manufacturing and deliver positive results from multiple relevant animal models since September last year, when the genetic sequencing behind the strain causing the current outbreak in West Africa was published.

“In less than five months, Novavax has validated its Ebola GP Vaccine with compelling animal data” said Novavax chief executive Stanley Erck, and noted that it can be “rapidly scaled-up to produce millions of doses”.

The randomised, observer-blinded, dose-ranging Phase I study is designed to assess the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine, with and without Matrix-M adjuvant, in 230 healthy adult subjects between 18 and 50 years of age, and is taking place in Australia.

GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson are currently ahead in the race to develop a vaccine to fight the spread of the disease.