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The world is on the verge of being able to protect humans against Ebola, the World Health Organization said on Friday, as a trial in Guinea found a vaccine to have been 100 percent effective.
Initial results from the trial, which tested Merck and NewLink Genetics’ VSV-ZEBOV vaccine on some 4,000 people who had been in close contact with a confirmed Ebola case, showed complete protection after 10 days.
The results were described as “remarkable” and “game changing” by global health specialists. “We believe that the world is on the verge of an efficacious Ebola vaccine,” WHO vaccine expert Marie Paule Kieny told reporters in a briefing from Geneva.
The vaccine could now be used to help end the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, which has killed more than 11,200 people in West Africa since it began in December 2013. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the results, published online in the medical journal The Lancet, would “change the management of the current Ebola outbreak and future outbreaks”.
The Gavi Alliance, which buys vaccines in bulk for poor countries who struggle to afford them, immediately said it would back an Ebola shot once it is approved. “These communities need an effective vaccine sooner rather than later,” Gavi’s chief executive Seth Berkley said. “We need to be ready to act wherever the virus is a threat.”
This and other vaccine trials were fast-tracked with huge international effort as researchers raced to test potential therapies and vaccines while the virus was still circulating.