The days of lack of vaccine for the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, may be finally over as doctors have announced that the first test of an Ebola vaccine in human shows it’s safe and appears to be working as designed.
According to the report made public on Wednesday, 26 November, 2014, a check on the first 20 people injected with the vaccine, which has been shown to protect monkeys from Ebola, shows no dangerous side effects.
It also added that the vaccine seems to be producing an immune response that would be expected to protect them from infection.
“This response is very comparable to the level of the response that actually protected the animals,” said Dr. Tony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIAID, which helped develop and test the vaccine.
The Ebola virus is currently raging through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and according to the World Health Organisation, WHO, the disease has killed more than 5,000 people and infected 15,000 others.
It was disclosed that NIAID is working with vaccine maker GlaxoSmithKline to develop the vaccine, which uses a common cold virus called an adenovirus that normally infects chimpanzees and doesn’t cause any symptoms in humans.
It was gathered that the vaccine is genetically engineered with a small piece of Ebola virus and, in theory, should prompt the immune system to recognize and attack Ebola.
The report stated that the trial is designed to see if the vaccine is safe and if the immune system responds in a way that would be expected to protect them.
The vaccine did, the NIAID researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
They especially looked at immune cells called CD8 T-cells.
“We know from previous studies in non-human primates that CD8 T-cells played a crucial role in protecting animals that had been vaccinated with this NIAID/GSK vaccine and then exposed to otherwise lethal amounts of Ebola virus,” said Dr. Julie Ledgerwood, an NIAID researcher who led the trial.
She added: “The size and quality of the CD8 T-cell response we saw in this trial are similar to that observed in non-human primates vaccinated with the candidate vaccine.”
It was disclosed that the real test will come if and when the vaccine is used to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who treat actual Ebola patients.
The WHO says 588 health care workers have been infected with Ebola and 337 have died of it.
Officials of the health agency stated that they hope to be able to use at least one of the vaccines to start immunizing health care workers by January.