World Health Organization reports progress on Ebola vaccine

The World Health Organization announced on Friday that it may well be on the brink of major progress in the global fight against the Ebola virus.

Based on results from preliminary trials involving more than 4,000 participants, the WHO’s new Ebola vaccine (called VSV-EBOV) is proving to be ‘highly effective’ against the virus that has infected more than 27,600 people worldwide.

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The WHO’s Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan called the preliminary results an “extremely promising development,” and health experts are advising that the trial continue in order to build more conclusive evidence on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. While the vaccine shows 100% efficacy in individuals, further trials are needed to determine how entire populations can build immunity to the highly infectious virus.

The voluntary trial participants include those who have had “close contact” with nearly 100 Ebola patients, such as neighbors and family members.

It’s been over a year since the Ebola epidemic swept through West Africa, and while the WHO reports considerable progress in tracking those infected, the virus continues to plague West African countries. Earlier this month, 30 cases were reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, despite Liberia’s recent progress in managing outbreaks. To date, Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people.