The last major Ebola outbreak that struck in West Africa several years
back may be the last such outbreak in history as a new vaccine has
proven effective in preventing infection. During that last outbreak
there was no vaccine and over 11,000 people died from the vicious
disease among the almost 30,000 people that were infected with Ebola.
The new vaccine was reported in the publication “The Lancet”
this week and it is able to stop Ebola. “We were able to estimate the
efficacy of the vaccine as being 100 percent in a trial,” says Ira
Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, who helped test
the vaccine. “It’s very unusual to have a vaccine that protects people
Longini says that there is no perfect medication or vaccine
and that the effectiveness of the vaccine is likely to go down as it is
tested on more people over time. Scientists believe that over time the
efficacy of the new vaccine is likely to sit at around 70-100%. That is
still much better than something like the flu vaccine administered last
year that was only about 50% effective.
The Ebola vaccine was tested on 4,000 people in Guinea back
on 2015 when the Ebola outbreak was spreading in the area. These people
who were given the vaccine were at high risk of catching the infection
after coming in contact with someone who was infected. Of the people who
were given the vaccine right away, none of them got sick.
The new vaccine is called rVSV-ZEBOV and at this time it isn’t approved
by the WHO or FDA, but those approvals are expected to come in 2018. One
important note is that the researchers don’t know how long protection
lasts right now and more research needs to be completed into that.