The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may not be getting as much media exposure as it had during the past few months. But that does not mean that it has gone away. In fact, since it first broke out in Guinea in December 2013, more than 28,000 people have become infected, with resulting in more than 11,000 deaths. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has just announced that a unique clinical trial in which vaccination rings were formed around infected patients by giving a single dose of the vaccine VSV-EBOV was given to friends and family of infected patients may now be the answer to stopping the spread of the deadly disease that the world has been seeking.
To date, they stated that over 4 000 close contacts of nearly 100 Ebola patients, including family members, neighbors, and co-workers, have voluntarily participated in the trial, which has shown 100% effective (according to a report in the journal Lancet). That figure may change, however, once more medical information is collected. In the meantime, “close” contacts (both adults and children) with all known Ebola patients in Guinea will now be given the vaccine immediately.
This trial, begun by the Public Health Agency of Canada and developed further by Merck Pharmaceuticals has been declared a “game changer,” by the international medical community, and is expected to be followed up with similar programs in other affected countries including Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, etc. It was also noted that additional trials for other vaccines made by GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson are also being conducted, although judging their effectiveness has been difficult to access due to the falling rate of new Ebola cases.
“The ‘ring’ vaccination method adopted for the vaccine trial is based on the smallpox eradication strategy,” explained John-Arne Røttingen, Chair of the Study Steering Group.as well as Director of the Division of Infectious Disease Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. In the meantime, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF aka Doctors Without Border) has been working with this research, and is part of a parallel trial for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients on the “frontlines.” Ebola, caused by ebolaviruses .and spread through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood, semen and saliva of an infected human or animals.Signs and symptoms typically begin anywhere from 2 days-3 weeks after contracting the virus and include fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and rash, as well as decreased function of the liver and kidneys. At this stage, some patients may begin to bleed both internally and externally. Death usually occurs in 90% of victims within 6-16 days once symptoms appear.