Scientists on Thursday announced a milestone in the fight against Ebola, reporting that a major trial of an experimental vaccine shows that it may be "highly protective" against the virus, which has infected almost 30,000 people and killed 11,000 worldwide since 2013. Moreover, the high rate of flu-like side effects with rVSV-ZEBOV make it unsuitable for use as a general-purpose vaccine. All told, some 28,616 cases were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 11,000 people died.
It's not a surprise - researchers had been working on an Ebola vaccine for years but because the virus only usually caused occasional, small outbreaks, it was hard to test it. The vaccine - rVSV-ZEBOV - was developed with the help of the Canadian government and is under development by the USA drug manufacturer Merck.
"After interim results were published showing the vaccine's efficacy, all rings were offered the vaccine immediately and the trial was also opened to children older than 6 years", World Health Organization officials said.
"The premise is that by vaccinating all people who have come into contact with an infected person, you create a protective "ring" and stop the virus from spreading further", John-Arne Rottingen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, which has been involved in implementing the trial, told CNN previous year. All participants had some contact with a new Ebola patient and received the vaccine within a few days or three weeks. In the meantime, the vaccine, licensed by U.S. firm Merck, has been fast-tracked for approval by regulators, CNN reports.
"Ebola left a devastating legacy in our country", Sakoba said.
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Other Ebola vaccines under development - some of which have been tested in humans - could prove more effective over a longer period. In the group that was initially delayed, a total of 23 cases of Ebola were reported.
"Vaccine efficacy was 100 per cent", the scientists behind the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine wrote in their paper. The vaccine has been developed by the Canadian government and is now licensed to the US -based Merck & Co.
Researchers Have Finally Found 100 % Effective Vaccine For Ebola!
There are several ongoing studies looking into how to better understand the safety of the vaccine in children and other vulnerable populations.