The Ebola epidemic that has taken the lives of thousands in West Africa could come to an end with a new hopeful vaccine.
The experimental vaccine was tested in Guinea on several thousands people and proved highly efficient. The results were published on Friday in the Lancet journal and are hailed by the World Health Organization as a hope for putting a fullstop to deaths caused by the rapidly spreading virus.
At the moment, there are no licensed vaccines for Ebola. Across West Africa, the virus has claimed the life of 11,000 people. Particularly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the hotspots of the virus, the virus proved difficult to contain.
Doctor Margaret Chan, the Director General of WHO stated:
“If proven effective, this is going to be a game-changer. It will change the management of the current outbreak and future outbreaks”.
The vaccine is licensed to Merck and Co.. However, the vaccine is pending approval by regulators at the moment. An official statement of Merck and Co. indicated that currently, the vaccine is still in mid-stage testing on patients in Liberia and final testing in Sierra Leone.
Pending approval, the company will start manufacturing the treatment. As the plans are moving rapidly, Gavi, which is the vaccine alliance, could start purchasing the vaccine as soon as it is approved.
Last year, it announced that it is prepared to spend 300 billion dollars on Ebola vaccines that are approved for use in the West African countries. The vaccine alliance is known for buying vaccines for use in developing countries.
In Guinea the trial was stopped following the recommendation of an expert panel which stated that Ebola-exposed people in Guinea must be immunized.
During the trials, the vaccine was used following the ring approach. This entails that the first people to be vaccinated are those that have been in close contact with a person infected by Ebola. The second tier of vaccinations concerns those at lower risk. And then, as the risk decreases, the vaccine is applied.
The assistant Director General of WHO, Marie Paule Kieny declared:
“Where rings have been vaccinated…the transmission has stopped. Prior to the vaccination, there were cases, cases, cases. The vaccination arrived and 10 days later, no cases”.
It is expected that upon regulators’ approval, the vaccine will be used following the same strategy.
Photo Credits: Guardian