In an breakthrough that’s expected to save thousands of lives, researchers have developed a vaccine for Ebola which provides “100 percent protection” against a particularly deadly strain of the disease. The results were confirmed after thousands of field tests on people in West Africa.
Although the vaccine didn’t come in time to save those ravaged by the 2014 outbreak which killed around 5,000 people, it’s expected to be a crucial tool in preventing future outbreaks. As of now, there are about 300,000 doses of the vaccine, known as rVSV-EBOV, waiting at the ready. Developers are waiting for regulatory approval of the drug so it can be put to wider use.
“When the next outbreak hits, we will not be defenseless,” Marie-Paule Kieny of the World Health Organization told the New York Times. “The world can’t afford the confusion and human disaster that came with the last epidemic,” she added.
From Science Alert:
Occasional new cases of Ebola are still being reported in Guinea, where researchers trialled a technique called “ring vaccination“. That means as soon as someone contracts the disease, the vaccine is given to those they’ve come into close contact with.
None of the 5,837 people who were given the vaccine had developed Ebola after 10 days, the study found. In contrast there were 23 new Ebola cases among the several thousands of people who didn’t get vaccinated.
That’s a hugely promising result, but we’re not completely rid of Ebola just yet: although rVSV-EBOV works against Zaire ebolavirus, the subtype of Ebola responsible for most human infections, it doesn’t work against the other four subtypes.
More testing needs to be done to study rVSV-EBOV’s effect on children and people who are HIV positive. The target to have the vaccine licensed is by late 2017.