An experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa since 2014, has shown great promise in protecting against the deadly disease.
A major clinical trial of new vaccine took place in Guinea's coastal region of Basse-Guinée where new ebola cases were still existent at the time of the experiment.
This vaccine was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, which licensed it to a company called NewLink Genetics.
Occasional new cases of Ebola are still being reported in Guinea, where researchers trialled a technique called "ring vaccination". Once a confirmed case was found, researchers contacted everyone in the circle of family, friends, neighbors and caregivers around the victim. Each of these "rings" ended up including about 80 people. Approximately half reported mild symptoms soon after vaccination, including headache, fatigue and muscle pain but recovered within days without long-term effects. Final results were published Thursday in the journal Lancet.
A Winnipeg laboratory has developed an Ebola vaccine that, when administered to someone within days of exposure to the virus, has a flawless track record of protecting them from infection.
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Researchers working on the crisis wrote the outbreak was "clearly not the ideal situation for doing a vaccine trial", but urgent global need for a solution helped spur work with local government to establish an effective method "in compliance with good clinical practice and worldwide standards". So the news there was a vaccine that had been 100% effective in early trials had the entire medical world holding its breath. Between the two trials, and the 7500 people vaccinated, there were just 23 cases. About 11,000 people were vaccinated.
"Ebola left a devastating legacy in our country", Sakoba said.
Ever since Ebola was discovered in the former Zaire in 1976, researchers have been trying to formulate an effective vaccine with little success. "This vaccine is one tool that [many researchers] are now very much hoping will be available and will contribute to controlling the next outbreak much faster and much more efficiently".
But it is still unknown if the vaccine is safe for children 6 and under, pregnant women, or people with the AIDS virus - all groups that were excluded from the most recent trials.
The World Health Organisation also assisted in the trial in Guinea with support from the Wellcome Trust, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, the Research Council of Norway, the Canadian Government and Médecins Sans Frontières.