Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ebola: UN emergency response mission winds down as WHO announces possible ‘game changer’ vaccine

UN News Centre: Having achieved its “core objective” of scaling up global action to tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response will officially wind down today, transferring its role to the World Health Organization (WHO), which just announced that an experimental vaccine being tested in Guinea appears to be highly effective and could be a “game changer.”

In WHO’s announcement and in results it published today in the medical journal, The Lancet, the UN health agency said the results from an interim analysis of trials in Guinea show that the VSV-EBOV vaccine is highly effective against Ebola, which has killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, as well as Guinea, in an epidemic that has proved devastating for the region.

The agency said that while the vaccine up to now shows 100 per cent efficacy in individuals, “more conclusive evidence is needed on its capacity to protect populations.”

The Guinea vaccination trial began in affected communities on 23 March 2015 to evaluate the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of a single dose of the vaccine VSV-EBOV by using a so-called ring vaccination strategy, the agency said. “To date, over 4,000 close contacts of almost 100 Ebola patients, including family members, neighbours, and co-workers, have voluntarily participated in the trial,” it said.

Describing the initial results as “promising” and “exciting,” WHO Executive Director said Dr. Margaret Chan told reporters: “I would like to say that if proven effective, this is going to be a game-changer. It will change the management of the current Ebola outbreak and future outbreaks.”...

A 26-year-old man, the third participant enrolled in VRC 207, receives a dose of the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. Credit: NIAID

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