An Ebola treatment centre in Kenema – Sierra Leone
TRENTON, Ontario, Canada (AA) – A Canadian vaccine has become the first effective defense against the deadly disease Ebola, Canadian media reported Friday.
In trials in Guinea, an African country rife with the disease, about 2,000 people exposed to Ebola were inoculated and none developed the disease when vaccinated within 10 days. The disease spreads by contact with an infected person. The findings were reported Friday in the The Lancet medical journal.
“We have nobody in the 2,000 or so people who have been vaccinated who have had an Ebola [diagnosis] 10 days after the vaccination,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a senior author of the trial and the World Health Organization’s lead for development of Ebola vaccines and drugs, told the Canadian Press (CP).
To date, about 28,000 have been infected in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in what is the worst Ebola outbreak in history. The World Health Organization said more than 11,000 have died.
The Canadian vaccine is the first experimental Ebola vaccine to protect against the disease.
The former director of Canada’s Winnipeg, Manitoba, National Microbiology Laboratory (MNL), where the vaccine was created, was overjoyed with the Guinea results.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Dr. Frank Plummer told CP. “For the NML and the whole team that was involved in this, it is the culmination of 15 years or work. It’s very, very exciting. Very, very gratifying.”
The VSV-ZEBOV vaccine works 100 percent when administered within 10 days of being exposed to Ebola infected victims. Of 3,500 given the vaccine after the 10 days, 16 contracted the disease.
“It suggests it works, it works pretty quickly and it works well,” Kieny told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
More conclusive evidence is needed and trials will continue, the WHO said.
“But this is a first ray of hope: an effective vaccine could be a game changer and finally put an end to the outbreak, which is still not under control in West Africa,” Dr. Joanne Liu of Doctors Without Borders said on Facebook.
Dr. Andrew Simor, chief of microbiology and infectious diseases at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, was in Sierra Leone in January training Ebola fighting teams and he told CBC that the vaccine is truly a game changer.
“Had this vaccine been available a year ago, I think it had the potential to save literally thousands of lives,” Simor said.
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