London| In a large human trial led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), an experimental Ebola vaccine was found highly protective against the deadly virus, promising an effective weapon against any future outbreak.
The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, according to the results published in The Lancet journal.
"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 Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, and the study's lead author.
In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those who did not receive the vaccine. The trial was led by the World Health Organization, together with Guinea's Ministry of Health and other international partners.
The vaccine's manufacturer, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme, this year received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the United States Food and Drug Administration and PRIME status from the European Medicines Agency, enabling faster regulatory review of the vaccine once it is submitted.
To assess safety, people who received the vaccine were observed for 30 minutes after vaccination, and at repeated home visits up to 12 weeks later.
Approximately half reported mild symptoms soon after vaccination, including headache, fatigue and muscle pain but recovered within days without long-term effects. Two serious adverse events were judged to be related to vaccination (a febrile reaction and one anaphylaxis) and one was judged to be possibly related (influenza-like illness). All three recovered without any long term effects, the study reported.
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