In a breakthrough the World Health Organization (WHO) said could be a ‘game-changer’, a new vaccine that delivers 100 percent protection against the deadly Ebola virus has been produced and successfully trailed in the field.
The vaccine, VSV-EBOV, which was developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck, working in close association with the Public Health Agency of Canada, was field-tested in Guinea. In the trial, when a patient was discovered with Ebola, friend and neighbors of the infected person were vaccinated with the new vaccine.
Between April and July 2015, over one hundred patients were identified and those who had close contact with them were vaccinated immediately, or three weeks later. It was found that in the 2,014 who were vaccinated immediately, there were no subsequent cases of Ebola; however, in those vaccinated after three weeks, 16 cases were found to have Ebola.
Officials at the WHO believe the vaccine’s effectiveness will eventually end up being somewhere between 75 and 100 percent. But the hope is that the new vaccine will ensure the disease does not inflict a tragedy of the scale witnessed in recent years.
The deadly Ebola disease, which began in Guinea in December 2013, claimed the lives of over 11,000 and infected more than 28,000 people, mainly in the three West African states of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
More vaccines are being trailed, although as the number of Ebola cases continues to decline it becomes increasingly difficult to prove how effective they are.