After 40 years since the first outbreak of the Ebola virus, there is finally a successful experimental Ebola vaccine that could be available by as early as 2018. On December 22, The Lancet Medical Journal released results from a trial showing that the vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, provides 100% protection from the Ebola virus.
The vaccine is now going through an approval process to be fast-tracked for use. Merck Sharp & Dohme, the vaccine’s manufacturer, received breakthrough therapy designation from the United State’s Food and Drug Administration and PRIME status from the European Medicines Agency, both of which allow for a faster review process once the vaccine is submitted.
The trials were conducted in Guinea, one of the countries most affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Participants were given a single dose of the vaccine beginning in March 2015. Of the nearly 6,000 people who received the vaccine, all were free of the ebola virus 10 days later.
In an equally-sized control group that was not vaccinated, 23 participants were infected by the Ebola virus. However, despite these results, it is still unknown whether the vaccine will work on children since the participants were all adults.
In 2014, the Ebola outbreak killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa. The viral illness infects humans through contact with infected animals and then can be spread between humans through infected bodily fluids. Until now, the only way to prevent outbreaks was to quarantine those anyone who was infected with the virus.
The trial was led together by the World Health Organization (WHO), Guinea’s Ministry of Health, Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Institute of Public health, with hope that these results will help combat any future outbreaks.
Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.