Ebola Vaccine Gets the Nod From British Experts, A Good Omen for Future Outbreaks

10/10/2017 - 3 minutes

Following trials in Gabon, researchers have an Ebola vaccine that effectively induces an immune response and is safe for both adults and children.

Ebola is a deadly hemorrhagic virus, with mortality rates reaching 90%. Following the Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016, the worst in history, the search for a vaccine became more desperate than ever. The outbreak infected 28,600 people and caused 11,300 deaths, which kicked experts across the world into action. Finally, the hard work may be paying off, as a safe and effective vaccine reported to be available.

Eight potential candidates were initially identified that could aid the development of a vaccine, and two were tested in the recent trials in Gabon. The successful vaccine, based on a non-infectious virus, rVSV-ΔGP-ZEBOV, produced an immune response and was safe in children and adults. The vaccine can replicate, opening the possibility for lower doses to be used in children and adolescents, something that will be investigated in further trials.

Professor Sanjeev Krishna, at St George’s University of London, hailed the efforts to fight Ebola allowed: “academics, non-governmental organisations, industry and funders to work effectively together very quickly in times of medical crisis,” highlighting the power of collaboration in science, which made a big difference here, and could do the same in many other areas.

The Ebola virus attacking an immune cell – an early stage of infection.

The field was buzzing with research between 2014 and 2016 while the outbreak was ongoing. RedHill Biopharma joined forces with the NIH to continue the development of its experimental therapy, while Humabs unearthed a ‘super-antibody’ with huge potential. Although this is the first Ebola news that we have covered in a little over a year, the search for a cure is by no means over.

In fact, Professor Krishna believes a system should permanently be in place in case of outbreaks like the one we saw back in 2016: “We need a system of specialists, medical experts and organisers that maintains vigilance against outbreak diseases like Ebola… We should continue to improve ways to make, evaluate and deliver vaccines when they are needed, often in parts of the world lacking in infrastructure for diagnosing infections and providing treatments.”

The fear of Ebola has died down as the rate of infection has been stemmed, but the devastating effect it had on the West of Africa will never be forgotten. As with other outbreaks, for example, Zika virus, it is worth putting in the hard work now, so that if or when the virus returns, we are ready.

Images – Sergey Uryadnikov, Crevis / shutterstock.com

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