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Experimental Ebola Vaccine 100% Successful

February 20, 2017        

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Hearteningly good public-health news for the world came earlier this month, as a Feb. 10 report in Lancet declared that an experimental new Ebola vaccine now completely protects people from the killer virus.


“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,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny of the World Health Organization (WHO), who led the trial.

 

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.  Additionally, no governments or companies had invested the time or money needed to develop a vaccine.

 

Then the epidemic started in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in late 2013.

 

By the time it was completely stopped earlier this year, it had infected 28,000 people and killed more than 11,000 of them.

 

Researchers rushed several vaccines into production.

 

The vaccine in question was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, which licensed it to a company called NewLink Genetics.  Pharma giant Merck & Co. bought the license and is making it.

 

It uses an animal virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV).  The virus is harmless to people.  Vaccine makers genetically engineered it to carry a little piece of Ebola DNA to stimulate an immune response.

 

The trial was stopped when it became clear that the vaccine was truly protecting people from infection, even after they’d been in direct contact with an Ebola victim.

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the vaccine breakthrough designation to allow quick licensing.

 

The Vaccine Alliance, an international group, has made a $5 million down payment to Merck to make sure the vaccine is available when it’s next needed.  Merck has promised to make 300,000 doses of the vaccine available for emergency use.

 

“Ebola left a devastating legacy in our country.  We are proud that we have been able to contribute to developing a vaccine that will prevent other nations from enduring what we endured,” said Dr KeÏta Sakoba, coordinator of the Ebola response in Guinea.