Ebola Experiment In Africa Shows ‘Promising Results’ As Virus Death Toll Hits 7518

By @ibtimesau on
A health worker escorts a newly admitted Ebola patient in to the Kerry town Ebola treatment centre outside Freetown December 22, 2014.  REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A health worker escorts a newly admitted Ebola patient in to the Kerry town Ebola treatment centre outside Freetown December 22, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner REUTERS/Baz Ratner

An experimental Ebola vaccine that was tested in healthy Ugandan and American volunteers had shown "promising results." The development comes as the World Health Organization announced on Monday the virus' death toll has reached to 7,518 out of the 19,340 confirmed cases recorded in the three West Africa countries hardest hit by the epidemic.

Of the three West Africa countries, Liberia gave off the most number of deaths at 3,376. It was followed by Sierra Leone at 2,556. As to the number of infected cases, Sierra Leone was the highest at 8,939. Liberia was second at 7,830 and Guinea at 2,571.

There were no reported new deaths in other countries, WHO said. It remains the same for Mali at six, eight in Nigeria, and one in the United States. Although Spain and Senegal both have had one case each, these didn't result to deaths.

Meantime, an experimental Ebola vaccine that was tested right among African nationals had shown early promising results. The effectiveness of the vaccine was being highly considered because according to scientists, other vaccines developed in the western world seemed to show lower levels of protection in African populations.

"This is the first study to show comparable safety and protection of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an African population," Dr Julie Ledgerwood, the lead researcher from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, at the National Institutes of Health, USA., said of the study published  in the Lancet journal. Both tested on healthy American and Ugandan volunteers, the vaccine's results so far showed it is far safe. Best of all, it generates an immune response in both populations.

Some 57 percent of the 108 adults from Kampala, Uganda who received the Ebola vaccine showed their blood developed antibodies against Ebola. Scientists from the NIAID developed the DNA vaccines that code for Ebola virus proteins from the Zaire and Sudan strains [3] and the Marburg virus protein.

The vaccines contain the construction plans for the proteins on the outer surface of the virus. Immune responses against these proteins have shown to be highly protective in non-human primate models.

Ebola virus and Marburg virus cause serious disease outbreaks with high case fatality rates. "These findings have already formed the basis of a more potent vaccine, delivered using a harmless chimpanzee cold virus, which is undergoing trials in the USA, UK, Mali, and Uganda in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak," Ledgerwood said.

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