A vaccination study in Guinea with about 4,000 participants found that the vaccine VSV ZEBOV can effectively protect against infection. Photo: Yann Libessart
© Yann Libessart
Feverishly researched to develop vaccines against the Ebola virus. Now they speak of an extraordinary progress. At the same time, WHO will continue to respond better to similar epidemics. Conakry / GENEVA (AP) - For the first time acts Ebola vaccine proven: In a large study in Guinea the means VSV ZEBOV protected the participants reliably against infection with the virus. Vaccinated people who had more or less contact with new infections and were considered particularly vulnerable.
The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, spoke of a "very promising" development. In addition, the WHO wanted to learn during the Ebola crisis with more than 11 000 deaths from their mistakes and have introduced extensive reforms.
In the field trial over 4000 participants were vaccinated. The study found that the vaccine protects after ten days to 100 percent prior to Ebola infection if it is given early. The study, involving the WHO and the US pharmaceutical company Merck & Co have been involved, will be presented in the journal "The Lancet".
A responsible for vaccinations WHO committee spoke of an acceptable safety profile. It had also been in past experiments with VSV-ZEBOV in some vaccinees side effects such as fever and joint pain, but these were to accept, confirmed Prof. Stephan Becker of the University of Marburg. He was involved in several other Ebola vaccination trials.
"This could eventually take the end of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and be useful in the future for the fight against this disease," said co-author Matthias Egger from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern (ISPM).
Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende cheered: "This new vaccine could be the king weapon against Ebola." The country had just as Canada and Guinea participated in the study. However, the use of the vaccine according to the study authors in Africa can be problematic because the resources must be stored cold.
"I'm really glad that worked out" praised the virologist Marburger Becker. "It had not dared to hope that one can prove the effectiveness of a vaccine nor convincing in this outbreak in West Africa."
Previous attempts have been established only by means of blood tests that the immune system responds to the vaccine, "but if this is indeed sufficient to safely protect a person against Ebola, which has only now show you".
Becker expects a relatively rapid approval of the vaccine. He also assume that there is enough vaccine, because several pharmaceutical companies had produced him and even ran some tests with the vaccine. The vaccine is intended, according to the study authors also not be used nationwide as measles or polio, but only with Ebola outbreaks.
Despite the success even more evidence for the safe protection of larger groups are needed according to the WHO: Therefore, the testing phase will continue to run.
The organization Doctors Without Borders, who had injected the vaccine 1,200 people in Guinea, the study warned, however: It remains essential to track contacts and continue the health education and the isolation of those infected.
Given the initially sluggish response to the Ebola outbreak, WHO will strengthen its ability to rapidly responses to health emergencies, said Director-General Chan. WHO had started to build up a new working party on global public health emergencies, which should mobilize resources in the event and coordinate aid.
Although new infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have fallen sharply since the beginning, the virus is not yet defeated. A diseased enough to erupt the epidemic again. In countries still individual cases are detected. In West Africa, more than 11 200 Ebola deaths, most referred to in the three countries were registered.