An experimental Ebola vaccine has just been developed to prevent the deadly infection caused by the Ebola virus. Ever since the lethal virus epidemic 2 years ago, researchers have been trying to develop a vaccine to counter it.
This new experimental vaccine was 100% effective in a small study done in West Africa. However, this vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory board but since it is considered effective, emergency stockpiles of 300,000 doses have already been manufactured in case these is another Ebola outbreak.
Ever since 1976 when the Ebola virus first occurred in Zaire, many attempts have been made to develop a vaccine but none were successful. This was mainly because the antigenicity of the Ebola virus was not well understood and also, there was limited funding. The fact that the epidemic was isolated to parts of Africa, the Western world was not too concerned about it. However, since the epidemic in 2014, it quickly became evident that Ebola virus could easily cross geographical borders and was deadlier than anything ever seen before.
The epidemic of 2014 thus changed the attitude among western healthcare workers. The very painful hemorrhagic deaths that the victims suffered quickly led to the realization that there was an urgent need to discover treatment. That outbreak which started in West Africa took over 11,000 lives and spread to the US and Europe. The frightening way Ebola caused death quickly led many governments to push for a vaccine.
This new experimental vaccine was tested in New Guinea and the results are published in the Lancet. In this study, out of the 5837 people who got the Ebola vaccine, none developed Ebola infection, The World Health Organization has stated that this experimental vaccine has created hope for many people in Africa. It opens up a faster and more effective way to put Ebola to rest. In the past, the small Ebola outbreaks were extremely difficult to deal with and required enormous resources including expensive protective gear. Burying the victims was also a major issue.
The new vaccine does have some flaws as it appears to be effective against only one of the two common strains of the Ebola virus. Plus, some experts believe that it may not offer long lasting protection. However, so far the vaccine has mild adverse effects like headache and joint pain.
Tests in primates have shown that just one shot provides protection if given one week prior to exposure to the Ebola virus. The shot even protected monkeys that received the vaccine a few days later after being infected with Ebola virus.