Published: Wed, December 28, 2016
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

A new WHO-backed Ebola vaccine is showing a 100% success rate

A new WHO-backed Ebola vaccine is showing a 100% success rate

The findings of the latest trial which were published recently in The Lancet show among the 5837 people who received the vaccine, no Ebola cases were recorded 10 days or more after vaccination. Ring vaccination basically involves the immunization of people close to an individual who is confirmed to have contracted the disease.

"While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa's Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenseless". Results were published Thursday. The experimental vaccine (dubbed rVSV-ZEBOV) may also only protect against one of the two common Ebola strains, which will mandate continued work to fully prevent the virus, according to the Times.

"When Ebola strikes again we will be in a much better position to offer help to affected communities, as well as protect the fearless volunteers who help control this bad disease", he said in an emailed statement.

The trial was led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), together with Guinea's Ministry of Health and other worldwide partners.

The possibility of an Ebola vaccine is a major leap for Africans at risk of the disease following a devastating outbreak mainly in three West African countries which started in 2014.

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It is pertinent to note here that right now, there are many potential Ebola vaccines under development. The initial results of the initial tests of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine were first noted past year. It used a "ring vaccination" approach, in which, when a new Ebola case was diagnosed, researchers traced all people who might have been in recent contact and logged them as clusters, or "rings", made up of an average of 80 people.

The new Ebola virus vaccine was discovered by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Other studies are looking at the immune response to the vaccine including one conducted in parallel to the ring trial among frontline Ebola workers in Guinea.

Since Ebola was first identified in 1976, thousands of people have died, including more than 11,300 people from 2013 to 2016. Everyone else either reported no side effects or very mild ones such as headache, fatigue and muscle pain. This suggested they had developed what's known as herd immunity, where enough people in a group are immune to prevent an outbreak - protecting even those who aren't vaccinated. Additional research is needed.

In January, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance provided US$5 million to Merck towards the future procurement of the vaccine once it is approved, prequalified and recommended by WHO. Merck has committed to having 300,000 emergency doses available soon and to submit the licensing application to regulatory authorities by the end of 2017. We just have to hope that scientists have got more vaccines in the pipeline for us to test. And there's a serious ethical issue in withholding a vaccine that has a good chance of being safe and effective from half the population, which may lead to more death and allow the disease to spread further.

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