The World Health Organisation (WHO) have announced that 2 Ebola vaccines appear safe and will be begin testing on healthy volunteers in West Africa.
With the current issues with the NHS and the failure to meet A&E waiting time targets, the Ebola outbreak in Africa seems to have taken a back seat in terms of news coverage at the moment. However after a meeting of experts this week, the WHO have announced that 2 vaccines have an “acceptable safety profile” and are ready to be tested on the Ebola front line in West Africa.
Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General of the WHO, who is leading the WHO’s Ebola vaccine efforts stated that “the cupboard (for Ebola vaccines) is filling up rapidly.”
Trials for these particular vaccines (produced by GlasxoSmithKline and Merck respectively) have been conducted on a limited number of volunteers and while the amount of protection the vaccines will give the recipients is unclear, there was a definitive immune response when injected with the vaccination. Further trials will now take place on thousands of people in Liberia at the end of January and then Sierra Leone and Guinea at the start of February, with front line workers being the main focus particularly in Sierra Leone.
The vaccination produced by Merck had been on hold temporarily in December due to reports of ‘mild’ joint pain as a side-effect, however, Dr. Kieny stated that “it was not worrying enough to stop the vaccine’s development.”
Dr. Peter Piot, who co-discovered the virus said that every option should be pursued to stop the transmission of the disease. ” It may be that we won’t be able to do that without a vaccine.
Dr. Kieny added that other vaccines were being developed in the U.S., Russia and elsewhere, and that “the world is waiting for us to get Ebola vaccines ready and out to the people that need them in their communities.”
Kieny also added; “2015 will be remembered as the year humanity used our best scientific minds to fight back.”