A new Ebola vaccine was found highly effective and could prevent the next potential outbreak of the hemorrhagic disease that killed thousands in West Africa.
In a major clinical trial conducted in Guinea, Guinea's National Agency for Health Security director KeÏta Sakoba and colleagues, who conducted the study, found that the experimental vaccine dubbed rVSV-EBOV was highly efficient in providing protection against the disease.
Protected 100 Percent Of Those Who Were Immediately Vaccinated
Of the 5,837 people who received the experimental vaccine, none of those who were immediately vaccinated after having some form of contact with infected individuals developed the disease. Only 23 of those who were not immediately given the vaccine developed the disease.
The result of the trial suggests that the vaccine can offer a new, faster and more efficient means of fighting Ebola virus and may just prevent the next outbreak.
"We are proud that we have been able to contribute to developing a vaccine that will prevent other nations from enduring what we endured," said Sakoba.
Works Only Against One Subtype Of Ebola Virus
The trial had promising results but this does not mean that the world is completely safe from the dangers of Ebola. The vaccine has flaws and limitations.
The vaccine, for instance, works only against Zaire ebolavirus, the subtype that caused most human infections and was responsible for the West African outbreak. Ebola virus has five known subtypes. An ideal vaccine should provide protection against all strains.
People also reported of unwanted side effects such as headaches, muscles pain and fatigue. Some even experienced serious reactions including allergic reaction to the drug.
"Headache (1832 [25·4%]), fatigue (1361 [18·9%]), and muscle pain (942 [13·1%]) were the most commonly reported adverse events in this period across all age groups," Sakoba and colleagues reported in the journal The Lancet on Dec. 22.
"80 serious adverse events were identified, of which two were judged to be related to vaccination (one febrile reaction and one anaphylaxis) and one possibly related (influenza-like illness); all three recovered without sequelae."
Although the side effects are bearable in the midst of an outbreak, these may discourage the general population from getting vaccinated when there is no looming threat of an Ebola infection.
No Longer Defenseless
Despite the vaccine's limitations and side effects, health experts were optimistic about the result of the trial. The availability of a vaccine would no longer leave the world defenseless should another Ebola outbreak arise.