In some really great news to end the year, an experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus has proven 100 percent effective in trials, according to a new study reported in the Lancet medical journal Thursday.
Since the end of 2013, Ebola, a highly infectious and deadly virus, has killed more than 11,300 West Africans, including many health care workers who were treating patients infected by the outbreak.
CNN reports that the experimental vaccine was tested in the West African country of Guinea in 2015 in those who were in contact with patients who had recently confirmed cases of Ebola. Initially, only people over the age of 18 were offered the vaccine and the participants were randomized, but after initial results were deemed “extremely promising” by the World Health Organization, the vaccine was given to everyone in need.
The New York Daily News reports that so far, about 11,000 people have been vaccinated, and no one given the vaccine developed the virus after a 10-day incubation period.
The vaccine is licensed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck and has been fast-tracked for approval by regulators. The company has promised to have 300,000 doses ready in case of emergency.
CNN reports that Ebola was discovered in 1976, and before the 2014 outbreak, it typically hit isolated African communities. However, in the crisis of 2014, Ebola tore through city centers and not only spread rapidly but also caught the global health community off guard. It was declared over by the World Health Organization in 2015.
“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 defenseless,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny of WHO and a lead author of the study.