“Healthcare workers in Mali have been given an experimental Ebola vaccine as part of the first human trials of the shot in West Africa, where three nations are battling the worst outbreak on record. The trials are part of a program to identify and roll out vaccines within months, compared with the years usually needed, in an effort to find a way to protect against a disease that has killed at least 3,865 people,” according to Reuters.
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The clinical trial will begin its testing phase by administering the injection to three people. Later, 37 others will be given the drug as part of the experiment.
NBC News reports, “The trial began Sept. 17 and is being conducted at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. The vaccine was developed by drug firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”
Currently, the trial is directed at health officials who care for Ebola patients; their closeness to infected individuals puts them at extreme risk for the deadly disease.
In order to fight the epidemic, however, these workers must be at ground zero. This prospective vaccine could be their only defense on the front since protective suits are often unavailable.
So far, more than 4,000 Africans have succumbed to the rampant infection—one of the worst in the continent’s recent history.
Regarding the would-be vaccine, The Guardian notes, “At this point, the researchers hope to establish that there are no significant ill effects, beyond perhaps a temporarily sore arm. But they will also be testing blood samples of the volunteers to ensure there is an antibody response, which is the signal that the vaccine may teach the immune system to recognize the virus and fight it off. Until it is used in health workers treating people with Ebola, however, there will be no real proof that it works.” [/show_to]