The next time Ebola strikes, Africa, and everywhere else, will be better prepared.
Findings from tests of rVSV-ZEBOV, a trial vaccine, show a 100% protection rate with thousands of people tested in Guinea all confirmed as virus-free within 10 days. The World Health Organization, which led the trial, says the vaccine could be available for mass use by 2018.
To meet that timeline, the regulatory approval process for the vaccine is being fast-tracked. In the meantime, backed by GAVI, a global vaccine alliance, pharmaceutical giants Merck have made 300,000 doses of the vaccine available in the event of an outbreak.
The possibility of an Ebola vaccine is a major leap for Africans at risk of the disease following a devastating outbreak mainly in three West African countries which started in 2014. Though now controlled, World Bank estimates put the cost of the outbreak’s economic impact at more than $3 billion in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia—the worst affected countries.
Published findings from the test say results from the test “add weight to the interim assessment that rVSV-ZEBOV offers substantial protection against Ebola virus disease, with no cases among vaccinated individuals from day 10 after vaccination in both randomized and non-randomized clusters.” Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, says the vaccine will be vital to Africa survival of another outbreak. ”While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenseless.”