Ebola: after 40 years, we finally have an effective vaccine against the disease

According to the WHO, the West Africa outbreak killed over 11.3 thousand people from 2013 to 2016


Another vaccine is under development to protect against the Sudan strain, different from the Zaire strain, present in West Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) has informed that the final trials of the experimental vaccine against Ebola retuned results showing the new drug can provides high protection against the virus. No cases of the disease were reported among the 6 thousand people who received the vaccine in Guinea in 2016, against the 23 cases among non-immunized people. The vaccine, named rVSV-ZEBOV, has a 100% efficacy in the 10 days after administration via intramuscular injection in a non-infected person, but in contact with infected patients. To the president of the humanitarian assistance organization Doctors Without Borders in Belgium, Doctor Bertrand Draguez, this vaccine will be a powerful asset to help preventing the propagation of the Zaire Ebola strain and to protect health workers. We will try to use t in any future outbreak of the disease. However, other researchers must be conducted to determine how long-lasting will the protection offered to people be and about vaccines against other strains of the virus, he added while stressing the need to enhance medical assistance for infected patients in order to ensure more lives will be saved.

Being a disease affecting the poorest countries and people, is it possible there was a lack of incentive for an effective vaccine?

For the past years, the MSF has made numerous appeals for researches. In September 2014, the organizations International President, Dr. Joanne Lie, during the General Assembly of the UN, she pointed the importance of world leaders ensuring the promises would be translated into effective action combating the outbreak. In May 2016, in the G-7 leaders meeting, Dr. Greg Elder, Medical Coordinator of the MSFs Access Campaign, urged for an urgent action towards responses to public health emergencies. Every day in our projects, we see the consequences people face because medicine prices are too high, or because the treatments they need simply don’t exist, said Dr. Elder while stressing the Ebola is another glaring example, where vaccines and treatment did not exist to tackle the disease about to lose control. These examples reflect an urgent need to change the way pharmaceutical research is conducted so that research is geared towards meeting essential health needs and so people can access needed medicines at an affordable price, he added.

The rVSV-ZEBOV commercial rights were acquired by American company Merck, and in case of an Ebola epidemic before the vaccines commercialization, 300 thousand urgent doses can be supplied to control it, thanks to an agreement between the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi) and Merck. The expectation is that the drug will be subjected for license still in 2017. This is the first vaccine to be tested with such efficacy in the field, but others will be needed, especially to protect sanitary workers, ensuring a long-lasting protection. Many others are being developed. Still according to the WHO, another vaccine is being developed to protect against the Sudan strain, different from the Zaire Ebola strain, present in West Africa.…