A baby receives a vaccine during a routine doctor’s visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country’s ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. (FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
After the death of nearly 7,000 Africans and one American from the deadly Ebola virus, there is heartening news on the vaccine front.
The U.S. government through the National Institutes of Health and British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has developed a promising new Ebola vaccine, which could be ready as early as January 2015.
In the clinical trials, which took place at the NIH in Maryland, of the 20 adults who received the vaccine, all produced an immune response through anti-Ebola antibodies. There have been no serious reported side effects.
“Based on these positive results from the first human trial of this candidate vaccine, we are continuing our accelerated plan for larger trials to determine if the vaccine is efficacious in preventing Ebola infection,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The adults, volunteers ages 18 to 50, were split into two groups. Half received an intramuscular injection of vaccine at a lower dose and 10 received the same vaccine at a higher dose, the NIH said. Researchers tested the volunteers’ blood at two weeks and four weeks after vaccination to determine if anti-Ebola antibodies had been produced.All 20 volunteers developed such antibodies within four weeks of receiving the vaccine, with levels higher in those who were given the higher-dose vaccine.
If further clinical trials result in an effective vaccine, health care workers who treat those with Ebola will likely be the first to receive it.
The highly infectious Ebola virus has spread to 16,169 mostly in the countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The three West African nations have been hardest hit, according to the World Health Organization.