Two Ebola vaccines undergoing clinical trials have shown promising results and would be deployed in January 2015 to West
African countries affected by the epidemic, a scientist from Oxford University said Monday.
Speaking at a conference of African Immunologists in Nairobi, Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, said the two vaccines will re-energise the fight against Ebola.
“The two vaccines have demonstrated remarkable efficacy and have no side effects to Ebola patients. We anticipate their deployment will commence in January,” Hill told African medical researchers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Nov 29 revealed that 6,928 people have died of Ebola in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
At the same time, 16,000 people are infected with the Ebola virus and could succumb to death in the absence of proper treatment and care.
Pharmaceutical giants, rich governments, foundations and multilateral agencies have contributed funds to support development of an Ebola vaccine.
Hill said that clinical trials on Ebola vaccine have accelerated thanks to adequate funding and political attention.
“Development of an Ebola vaccine is accelerating faster than anticipated. The vaccine is being tested in Mali where 80 people have received the jab,” Hill said, adding that over 200 people have been vaccinated against Ebola globally.
The clinical trials on Ebola vaccine commenced in September and the WHO will approve it once it passes efficacy and safety test.
Hill revealed that pharmaceutical giants, British and American governments have collaborated to develop the Ebola vaccine.
Clinical trials on Ebola vaccine have involved primates since the disease was discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“There was a breakthrough in the clinical trials targeting monkeys and the next phase will focus on the vaccines` efficacy on humans,” Hill told scientists.
He emphasised the vaccine will be a game changer in the war against Ebola in West and Central Africa.
“The vaccine will be availed to high risk groups like health workers and people involved in burials,” Hill said.
The first volunteer in the UK trial at Oxford University was vaccinated on 17 September, two weeks after the first volunteer in the USA. This allowed further trials in Mali and then Switzerland to begin shortly afterwards in October.
The trialists in Lausanne hope to have a total of 120 subjects vaccinated by beginning of December.
The clinical trial in Mali, being performed by the Center for Vaccine Development of Mali (CVD-Mali), the CVD of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Malian Ministry of Health, is providing the only clinical and immune response data so far with the vaccine in West African subjects. By late December 2014, the team should know how the immune responses of Malian health care workers given the vaccine compare to those observed in adults given the vaccine in the UK and Switzerland.