A U.S. Army research lab announced on April 1st, 2015 that an experimental Ebola vaccine seemed to be safe and successful during clinical trials. An Army official said that the vaccine worked so quickly and powerfully that it could possibly be sent out to future Ebola hotspots to slowdown possible outbreaks. Ebola, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a deadly and rare disease caused by one of the five strains of the Ebola virus.
The trials first began in October 2014 in Africa when the Ebola outbreak was at it’s peak. Two independent studies were performed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) involving 52 volunteers. 28 of the volunteers receive the actual test vaccine in various doses and the remainder received placebos. 93% of the vaccinated group showed the proper antibody response within two weeks, which means their bodies developed the ability to fight off the Ebola infection. The entire volunteer group showed response within a month.
In a press release, Army Col. Stephen Thomas stated, “we saw a robust immune response following a single dose of the vaccine, which could be particularly useful in outbreak interventions.” Thomas is the research institute’s deputy commander and senior author on the paper.
The vaccine is now called VSV-EBOV. Scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory originally produced the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which is one of the two Ebola vaccines that are presently being tested in West Africa. The VSV-EBOV vaccine is licensed to NewLink Genetics Corp. with Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
Lt. Col. Jason Regules from WRAIR said, “we were gratified to see that the vaccine was not associated with significant adverse effects in this very carefully monitored study.” The vaccine does not contain the Ebola virus and cannot cause the disease when administered.
“This is an example of the whole of government working at its best to address a public health issue. We were able to leverage the WRAIR’s experience in conducting ethical and safe clinical research experiments to meet a global need,” said Thomas.
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