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Ebola Vaccine Trials: How Much Science Has Advanced

28 December 2016

Participants were given a single dose of the vaccine beginning in March 2015.

Scientists have struggled to develop an Ebola vaccine over the years, and this is the first one proven to work. There were however 23 recorded Ebola cases among those who were not able to receive the vaccine immediately.

It was not possible to collect biological samples from people who received the vaccine in order to analyse their immune response. Approximately half reported mild symptoms soon after vaccination, including headache, fatigue and muscle pain but recovered within days without long-term effects.

The World Health Organization, the Guinean Health Ministry, and the Institute of Public Health of Norway led the Ebola trial, in collaboration with other institutions.

The vaccine was developed in Canada but is now owned and manufactured by Merck, Sharp & Dohme. All had some contact with a new Ebola patient. The World Health Organization has affirmed the fact that this virus will be able to serve the goal for in the best possible manner and is now being tracked for the official approval after a detailed testing.

First identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ebola virus erupted periodically in outbreaks of up to a couple hundred cases, mainly across west and east Africa.

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The findings of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine come at a time when another study titled Updates to the zoonotic niche map of Ebola virus disease in July this year showed that Marsabit County could be at risk of an animal-to-human transmission of the Ebola virus as it is "environmentally suitable for Ebola transmission by bats".

The trial, which started in 2015, took place in the coastal region of Basse-Guinée, the area of Guinea which is still experiencing new cases of Ebola. As part of this agreement, Merck committed to ensure that 300 000 doses of the vaccine are available for emergency use in the interim, and to submit the vaccine for licensure by the end of 2017.

Additional studies are ongoing to provide more data on the safety of the vaccine in children and other vulnerable populations such as people with HIV.

And the collaborative way in which worldwide groups worked together to develop and test the vaccine lays the groundwork for fighting the next epidemic. Merck must seek approval of its vaccine from the World Health Organization and licensing by a major regulatory agency like the United States Food and Drug Administration or the European Medicines Agency.

It's the same strategy that was used to eradicate smallpox. Results showed that 100 percent protection can be provided by the vaccine as reported by WQAD.

Analysis only included cases occurring 10 days after receiving the vaccine to account for the incubation period of the Ebola virus.