British volunteers trial Ebola vaccine

Aug 3, 2015 Following the widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus in some West African countries, where at least 11,200 people have died, a team of researchers from Oxford, is in the process of creating a vaccine for the deadly virus.

The vaccine, which is developed by Bavarian Nordic and Johnson & Johnson, is tagged “the EBOVAC2 project”, and is one of two different trial vaccines being tested across Britain, France and Senegal.

Dr Malick Gibani, a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University commented on the project.

At the beginning of last year, we had no vaccines available against the Ebola virus and currently there are still no licensed vaccines available. The trials that have happened over the course of the past year have been greatly accelerated,”

Also commenting on the field trials of the vaccine, Gibani said:

In terms of testing it in the field, it might be quite difficult given the number of cases of Ebola have fallen over the last few months

The new Ebola vaccine trial took place with volunteers in Oxford trying the new “prime-boost” immunizations. According to the researchers, each vaccine contains a genetically modified safe virus which carries just one part of the Ebola virus in order to stimulate the body’s immune system.

The researchers assured that none of the shot contained any live Ebola virus.

During the trial, the volunteers had to take a blood test, before the two-part vaccine was administered. The first part was to stimulate the body to an initial immune response and the second dose which is designed to boost the volunteer’s immunity, is given a few weeks later.

A volunteer, 63 year-old Colin Prickett said:

It’s nice to be able to do something that contributes to the welfare of other people. This vaccine, when developed, will save many lives and it’s quite a privilege to be involved in that,”

Liberia which was initially declared “Ebola Free” has experienced a comeback of the virus in recent weeks with six new cases reported. Despite the decline in the number of Ebola cases in recent months, researchers have pointed to the re-occurrence of the virus in Liberia as a major motivation underlining the need to develop potential vaccines that will help control this and future outbreaks.

“The biggest priority is to make sure we are not in the same situation again and that we’re better prepared for the next time we might see something similar to this in the future,” said Gibani.

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