The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised the 100% efficacy of new Ebola vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, during a trial in Guinea, and said the vaccine shows promise and “highly effective” in curbing the spread of the disease.
The West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were worse hit during the Ebola epidemic last year, where over 12,000 people died and over 17,000 were infected with the disease.
“This is an extremely promising development,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general. “The credit goes to the Guinean Government, the people living in the communities and our partners in this project. An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks.”
The results of trial which started in March in Guinea have shown 100% efficacy, encouraging researchers this week to give immediate vaccination to everyone who is at risk of the disease. Health experts however call for more research, even as it becomes obvious that it would take weeks or a couple of months to provide sufficient quantities for regional vaccination.
The researchers adopted the “ring” strategy in administering the vaccine, which is based on “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,” said John-Arne Rottingen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Over 4,000 family members, neighbours, co-workers, and friends of about 100 Ebola patients have willingly stepped out for the trial. “The trial stopped randomisation on 26 July to allow for all people at risk to receive the vaccine immediately, and to minimize the time necessary to gather more conclusive evidence needed for eventual licensure of the product.”
Based on evidence of safety, the vaccine might be trialled for teenagers and even children from the age of 6. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to Merck and NewLink, but being trialled by frontline health workers.
The WHO, Medecins sans Frontieres or Doctors without Borders, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Guinean ministry of health, and other international health organizations are conducting the trial in Guinea.