New Ebola Vaccine to be Tested in Guinea

Ebola VaccineThe spread of the Ebola virus , which has killed 10,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, is steadily slowing down in West Africa, and there is more good news: the World Health Organization alongside the Health Ministry of Guinea, Médecins Sans Frontières, Epicentre and The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, will begin vaccination trials in Basse Guinée, a region of Guinea that has the highest number of reported Ebola cases.

This Ebola vaccine was created by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the process will resemble the experiments used to wipe out smallpox in the 1970s. Anyone who is in contact with someone with Ebola will be vaccinated. This technique is sometimes referred to as “ring vaccination” as a ring of people around the infected will receive the vaccination. The World Health Organization hopes that having a ring of individuals around the already infected can serve as a sort of defense from spreading any further. Those working with the infected will also be vaccinated.

If this vaccine proves effective, it will be the first ever preventative measure available for this virus. Though hopes are high, those working on the distribution of the vaccine refuse to get comfortable. “The Ebola epidemic shows signs of receding but we cannot let down our guard until we reach zero cases,” said Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny, leader of the Ebola Research and Development work being done for the World Health Organization.

“This epidemic remains unpredictable,” agreed Betrand Draguez, medical director at Médecins Sans Frontières. “We don’t know when it will end, and that’s why it remains crucial for us to keep focusing our efforts on developing a vaccine capable of protecting the population in this epidemic and any future ones.”

This development could not only serve as a treatment of the virus, but also prevent it from developing further, bringing the epidemic to an end.  The World Health Organization hopes that this groundbreaking progress will save the lives of the people of West Africa and around the world.

Melissa Binns

Sources: Wall Street Journal, WHO

Photo: Flickr