Americans may be losing interest about the Ebola virus but the war to eradicate it is still going on. The disease is still spreading, infecting more victims, which is now over 20,000 and killing more than 8,000 already. While health workers are manning the battle fronts personally, The WHO, health experts and drug companies are racing with time in coming up with the much needed Ebola virus vaccines.
The Ebola vaccine clinical testing is set to enter its critical stage. Phase III will start this coming Monday, January 12, 2015. The vaccine will benefit among others health workers assigned in the West African nations hardest hit by the hemorrhagic disease.
More than 800 health care personnel have already been infected by the virus and over 400 hundred of them died from it since. Drug companies have been trying to come up with the vaccines since The World Health Organization declared it an emergency situation in August 2014.
The infection is still on the rise in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea contrary to some reports. The vaccine will be a welcome relief in fighting the infection which has a very high mortality rate. The plan is to manufacture two million shots in the months to come if the vaccines prove to be effective.
A meeting is going on at WHO headquarters attended by experts coming from all over the world to analyze the data of the trials and discuss the results. Another important agenda that will be taken up in the meeting is how to go about in carrying out Phase III of the upcoming clinical trials.
Phase III is the stage of the trial when a drug is “given to large groups of people to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely, according to The US National Library of Medicine.
Three different trial models will be used during the III Phase, using only the most advanced vaccines already available: 2 from GlaxoSmithKline, another one from NewLink Genetics and Merck’s collaboration efforts, and rounding up the vaccines for testing is from Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic. The last one is not as advanced as the first two.
According to Dr. Matthew Snape of the Oxford Vaccine Group during his interview with BBC: “We are not playing first past the post here. Having multiple vaccines progressing through clinical trials increases the likelihood of vaccine manufacturers having the capacity to meet production demands should mass immunization be required.”
The main concern is to make the vaccine available to more than 22 million people who are in danger of getting infected by the disease.
Reports from Liberia indicate that the virus has now began spreading out from Monrovia, the capital city, to rural and remote areas. The infection is so widespread that it’s becoming more difficult to for experts to monitor it.
Although the presence of foreign health workers are still met with suspicions from many of locals, some are beginning to trust them.
The number of cases may not be fully known since many of them remain largely unreported.