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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Vaccine trials due in January

• GENEVA – The World Health Organization is pressing the search for an Ebola vaccine and hopes to begin testing two experimental versions as early as January on more than 20,000 front-line health care workers and others in West Africa’s hot zone – a bigger rollout than envisioned just a few months ago.

An effective vaccine would not in itself be enough to stop the outbreak – for one thing, there probably won’t be enough doses to go around – but it could give important protection to the medical workers who are central to the effort. More than 200 of them have died of the disease.

The WHO, which has come under fire for bungling its initial reaction to the Ebola crisis, is helping coordinate trials of two of the most promising experimental vaccines.

The real-world testing in West Africa will go forward only if the vaccines prove safe and trigger an adequate immune-system response in volunteers during clinical trials that are either underway or planned in Europe, Africa and the U.S. The preliminary safety data are expected to become available by December.

The outbreak in West Africa has killed over 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since it emerged 10 months ago. Experts said the world could see 10,000 new cases a week in two months if authorities don’t take stronger steps.

The vaccine push comes as Sierra Leone said Tuesday that the number of infected people in the country’s western region is soaring, with more than 20 deaths a day. That region is on the opposite side of the country from where the first cases emerged.

Journalist OK

• OMAHA, Neb. – An American video journalist being treated for Ebola is now free of the virus and will be released soon, the Omaha hospital where he is being treated said Tuesday.

A recent test showed Ashoka Mukpo’s blood is negative for the virus, according to the Nebraska Medical Center. The test was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mukpo will be allowed to leave the hospital’s biocontainment unit today.

Mukpo, of Providence, Rhode Island, contracted the virus while working in Liberia as a freelance cameraman for NBC and other media outlets. He has been at the Nebraska Medical Center since Oct. 6 and was the second Ebola patient to be treated there.

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