Published: Wed, December 28, 2016
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

The Burial of Ebola

The vaccine's manufacturer, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme, this year received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the United States Food and Drug Administration and PRIME status from the European Medicines Agency, enabling faster regulatory review of the vaccine once it is submitted.

For healthy adults from Sierra Leon, the recombinant type-5 vector-based Ebola vaccine is safe and immunogenic, according to a study published online December 21 in The Lancet. Before 2014, only about 1,600 people died of Ebola.

In a major clinical trial, almost 6,000 people in Guinea were given the test vaccine past year, at the tail end of a lethal epidemic of Ebola.

The Ebola ça Suffit clinical trial, funded in part by the World Health Organization, evaluated the potential of a candidate vaccine to protect against Ebola virus. The shot also protected several monkeys who received it a day after being infected with Ebola. There were 16 cases of Ebola virus that surfaced in the delayed-vaccination group 10 days or more after randomization; but none occurred among those who were vaccinated right away, for a vaccination efficacy rate of 100% in this cohort. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those who did not receive the vaccine.

The Ebola epidemic of 2014-15 claimed 11,300 lives in West Africa, spread the virus as far as NY and Texas, and exposed the failures of the world public-health system-but at least the experience is concluding with a feat of medical and human progress.

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Ebola was first discovered in 1976, and before the 2014 outbreak, it typically hit isolated African communities - those outbreaks were much more manageable for medical teams to parachute in and treat patients. That meant 117 clusters, with rings of contacts around them consisting of about 80 people on average.

Coordinator of the Ebola Response and Director of the National Agency for Health Security in Guinea, Dr KeÏta Sakoba, said: "Ebola left a devastating legacy in our country". Approximately half reported mild symptoms soon after vaccination, including headache, fatigue and muscle pain but recovered within days without long-term effects.

Some of these vaccines require two doses three weeks apart, and may confer a longer immunity. "We are proud that we have been able to contribute to developing a vaccine that will prevent other nations from enduring what we endured".

Additional studies are still ongoing as researchers asses the safety of the vaccine in children and other vulnerable population including those diagnosed with HIV.

Also, the developed vaccine has not yet been approved by, but the results deem it highly effective that 300,000 doses of emergency stockpile were already formulated and are now ready to use in case of another outbreak. The vaccine does not contain any live Ebola virus.

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