Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coming Soon: Ebola Vaccine

As of November 23, there have been 15,935 reported cases and 5,689 deaths attributed to Ebola. While experts say the epidemic is coming to an end, no one can be sure when exactly the epidemic will end. Currently, Ebola vaccine trials are underway as a way to prevent the epidemic from widening and to prevent an epidemic of this nature in the future. A vaccine developed by Merck and NewLink was given to 34 volunteers at University Hospitals of Geneva. After being injected, the volunteers were observed for 1.5 hours at the clinical trials unit. The results of the trial were very promising as there were no serious side effects so far, except a few experienced a mild fever. The vaccine triggered the expected inflammatory responses which were weak to moderate. This vaccine is one of the several being fast-tracked through clinical trials in hope that they can be used as soon as possible to quell the epidemic in West Africa. Trials have also begun in the United States, Canada, Germany, Gabon, and will soon start in Kenya. Last week, GlaxoSmithKline also received results from a first trial of their Ebola vaccine. This vaccine caused no serious side effects and produced an immune response in the 20 volunteers in Britain, Mali and Switzerland. The GlaxoSmithKline vaccine only targets the Zaire strain of Ebola which is the strain causing the current epidemic. Additionally, a trial of an Ebola vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will start in January. Without a vaccine, the epidemic will be very difficult to control thus this promising news is a small light at the end of the tunnel for the epidemic.



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