A new Ebola vaccine tested on thousands of people in Guinea has proven to work promising a hopeful shut-out of the epidemic in West Africa.
According to interim results from an experimental study, experts are saying that this could be the breakthrough cure for Ebola. At this time, there is not any vaccine, cure or treatment for Ebola as it has continued killing more than 11,000 people in West Africa, according to The Denver Post.
The virus began in the forest region of Guinea in 2014. Although cases have decreased in other areas such as Sierra Leone and Liberia in the past few months, there has yet to be any treatments.
“If proven effective, this is going to be a game-changer,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, which sponsored the study. “It will change the management of the current outbreak and future outbreaks.”
Over the years, scientists have struggled to find any effective treatments or vaccines for the virus. Due to the sporadic nature of the outbreaks and the constant struggle for funds to support finding a cure, there have not been any positive breakthroughs. Any drug that has gotten to the level of testing in West Africa, has quickly been abandoned when defeat seemed inevitable.
The new study involved thousands of people who had been in contact with a new Ebola patient. They were all assigned randomly to receive the vaccine immediately, or within three weeks. After 10 days of receiving the treatment, researchers started to track results in order to weed out anybody that might be silently harboring the virus from the beginning.
Of all the people assigned to get the vaccine right away after contact, none of them developed Ebola. But from the other group that got the vaccine later, 16 people did develop Ebola.
The Canadian government is responsible for developing the vaccine and has licensed it to Merck & Co. But still at this time, it has not been approved by regulators.
Officials think the vaccine would only be used once an outbreak starts to protect those at high-risk. It is not however in any plan to offer it as a mass vaccination like those for measles or polio.
Merck stated that the vaccine is in the final round of human testing in Sierra Leone as well as mid-stage testing in Liberia. If it is approved for use outside of the patient studies, Merck, will be the manufacturer.