The world is, for the first time, close to being able to protect humans against the Ebola virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday, as data from a trial in Guinea showed a test vaccine to be 100 percent effective.
The vaccine known as VSV-ZEBOV or VSV-EBOV was tested on 4,000 people in Guinea who had been in close contact with Ebola patients. The trial was run as a joint study by the Canadian health agency, the US pharmaceutical company Merck and the WHO.
The participants received the trial drug within 10 days of being identified as possible carriers.
"We believe that the world is on the verge of an efficacious Ebola vaccine," WHO vaccine expert Marie Paule Kieny said at a press conference in Geneva.
There are currently no licensed treatments or vaccines for Ebola, which has killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa since the most recent outbreak began in December 2013.
If proven effective the vaccine could be a "game changer," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.
The trial will continue and will be extended to include 13-to-17-year-olds with the possibility of six-to-12-year-olds also being included in future, the WHO added.
jlw/sms (AP, Reuters, dpam, AFP)