Phase III Trial Launched of Ebola Vaccine

"There has been massive mobilization on the part of the affected countries and all partners to accelerate the development and availability of proven interventions. If a vaccine is found effective, it will be the first preventive tool against Ebola in history," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.

The World Health Organization, the Health Ministry of Guinea, Médecins Sans Frontières, Epicentre, and The Norwegian Institute of Public Health launched a Phase III trial of the VSV-EBOV vaccine in Guinea. The trial is based on promising data from initial clinical trials in late 2014 and will test the vaccine's efficacy and effectiveness to prevent Ebola. The vaccine was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada; a second vaccine will be tested in a sequential study, as supply becomes available, according to WHO.

"We have worked hard to reach this point," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. "There has been massive mobilization on the part of the affected countries and all partners to accelerate the development and availability of proven interventions. If a vaccine is found effective, it will be the first preventive tool against Ebola in history."

Vaccinations will take place in areas of Basse Guinée, the region that currently has the highest number of cases in the country, with a "ring vaccination" strategy being used, based on the approach used to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. This involves identifying a newly diagnosed Ebola case – the "index case" – and tracing all of that person's contacts, who are then vaccinated if they give their consent.

"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, who leads the Ebola Research and Development effort at WHO. "An effective vaccine to control current flare-ups could be the game changer to finally end this epidemic and an insurance policy for any future ones."

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