The current Ebola outbreak – which has affected over 20,000 people, killing more than 8,000 – may soon become somewhat more manageable with the development of vaccines.
Following closely at the heels of the Jenner Institute trials of a Glaxo-Smith-Kline/National Institutes of Health-developed-vaccine for Ebola, a second vaccine trial is about to begin human trials in Oxford. This vaccine is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson, and the trial is being carried out by The Oxford Vaccine Group.
72 volunteers are to be given the vaccine, which involves a primer dose and second booster dose; one to stimulate an initial response for the immune system and a second to improve and maintain the body’s immune response. Non-human primate trials have shown promising results, protecting all subjects from death from a strain of Ebola similar to that currently rampant in West Africa.
Should this vaccine maintain it’s successful record in human trials, and prove to be safe, it could help to reduce the enormous strain on public health services in affected countries, which are seeing hundreds of new Ebola cases every week. According the World Health Organisation the fatality rate for Ebola averages at about 50 per cent, varying from 25 to 90 per cent. Reducing this rate could significantly alleviate some of the intense strain on healthcare providers, freeing up valuable and limited resources.
With the results of the first Oxford trial expected shortly, and the development of further vaccines in Russia, manufacturers may be able to meet the potentially enormous demand for immunisation. In the words of Dr. Matthew Snape of The Oxford Vaccine Group, ‘The more vaccines…the better.’