Ebola experimental vaccine is highly effective, trial shows

Health workers wearing protective gear at the Nongo Ebola treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea, on August 21, 2015Image copyright
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Guinea was one of the worst hit countries in the West Africa Ebola outbreak

An experimental vaccine has been found to be highly effective against the deadly Ebola virus.

The trial was conducted in Guinea, one of the West African countries most affected by an outbreak of Ebola that ended this year.

Results, published in British medical journal The Lancet, show that of nearly 6,000 people receiving the vaccine, all were free of the virus 10 days later.

In a group of the same size not vaccinated, 23 later developed Ebola.

The director of British-based medical research institute the Wellcome Trust described the findings as “remarkable”.

“Had a vaccine been available earlier in the Ebola epidemic, thousands of lives might have been saved,” Jeremy Farrar said.

“We have to get ahead of the curve and make promising diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for diseases we know could be a threat in the future.”

Ebola – mapping the outbreak

The trial was led by the World Health Organization (WHO), working with Guinea’s health ministry and international groups.

The WHO’s Marie-Paule Kieny said the results could help combat future outbreaks.

“While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenceless,” said Dr Kieny, the lead author of the study.

The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 but the recent outbreak in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people, highlighted the need for a vaccine.

The outbreak began in Guinea in 2013 and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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