The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Health Ministry of Guinea will lead a group beginning a Phase III trial of the VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine beginning Saturday.
Doctors Without Borders, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Epicentre will also participate in the trial in
Basse Guinee, the country's region with the most Ebola cases, to determine the vaccine's safety and effectiveness in preventing Ebola.
Researchers will use the “ring vaccination” method, which was implemented in the 1970s as part of the smallpox eradication. For ring vaccination, a person recently diagnosed with Ebola will reveal all of his or her recent contacts. Those contacts, if they agree, will then receive the Ebola vaccine.
The Public Health Agency of Canada developed the VSV-EBOV vaccine, and as soon as supplies are available, another Ebola vaccine will be tested.
“The Ebola epidemic shows signs of receding but we cannot let down our guard until we reach zero cases,” WHO's assistant director-general and leader of the Ebola research and development effort Marie-Paule Kieny said. “An effective vaccine to control current flare-ups could be the game-changer to finally end this epidemic and an insurance policy for any future ones.”
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the organization has worked hard to reach this point.
“There has been massive mobilization on the part of the affected countries and all partners to accelerate the development and availability of proven interventions," Chan said. "If a vaccine is found effective, it will be the first preventive tool against Ebola in history.”