An experimental Ebola vaccine was highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea, according to results published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet.
The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published last year, said the World Health Organization (WHO) in a news release on Friday.
The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, was studied in a trial involving 11,841 people in Guinea during 2015, according to The Lancet. Among the 5,837 people who received the vaccine, no Ebola case was recorded 10 days or more after vaccination. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those who did not receive the vaccine.
"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," said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's assistant director general for Health Systems and Innovation, and the study's lead author.
The WHO led the study of the vaccine, which was initially developed by the Canadian government and was eventually licensed to Merck, a leading US drugmaker.
Merck is expected to seek regulatory approval in the United States and Europe sometime next year.
The vaccine's manufacturer, Merck Sharpe & Dohme, a subsidiary of Merck, received Breakthrough Therapy Designation this year from the United States Food and Drug Administration and PRIME status from the European Medicines Agency, enabling faster regulatory review of the vaccine once it is submitted.
Since the Ebola virus was first identified in 1976, sporadic outbreaks have been reported in Africa, but never as deadly as the West African Ebola outbreak of 2013-2016, which resulted in more than 11,300 deaths, according to WHO estimates.
Source: Philippines News Agency