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UN envoy: Expect Ebola vaccine in coming months

/ 03:13 PM April 08, 2015

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa winds down, the United Nations is optimistic that a vaccine against the deadly virus will be made available in the next several months.

“Clinical trials have have now been undertaken of candidate vaccines, two of them. They are now at an advanced stage,” Dr. David Nabarro, UN secretary general special envoy on Ebola, told reporters in Manila on Wednesday.

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“I believe that we will have a vaccine against Ebola that is available and can be used particularly for doctors and nurses who provide treatment for people with the disease in the coming months,” he added.

According to the World Health Organization, the two vaccine candidates undergoing efficacy trials are ChAd3-ZEBOV, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and rVSV-ZEBOV, developed by NewLink Genetics and Merck Vaccines USA. The first is being developed in collaboration with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the second with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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Nabarro explained that in the past, there was little interest in developing a vaccine, which enables the body to create antibodies to protect itself, against the Ebola virus. Ebola was considered a rare disease and creating a vaccine requires expensive and extensive research.

“It is a horrible (disease) and it kills people but it doesn’t happen very often,” the UN envoy said.

With the resurgence of Ebola, pharmaceutical companies are now investing in the development of vaccines and treatments against the deadly virus.

To date, there have been 25,000 cases of Ebola worldwide. Nabarro said 10,000 people have already died because of it.

He said the vaccines would be particularly helpful for doctors and nurses treating patients with Ebola.

Nabarro said the two candidate vaccines are now in the “middle of phase 3 clinical trials,” which involves testing the efficacy of the vaccine in a community.

“It is anticipated that we will have the results in a month or two,” he said.

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Ebola virus has a fatality rate of around 50 percent. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person.The most recent outbreak is concentrated in West Africa. RC

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TAGS: David Nabarro, Ebola, United Nations, Vaccine
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