Sunday, 7 September 2014

GOODNEWS : Ebola Vaccines Could Be Available In A Matter Of Weeks

A doctor works in a laboratory on
collected samples of the Ebola virus at
the Centre for Disease Control in
Entebbe, Uganda, following an
outbreak that killed 16 people in 2012.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/Edward Echwalu)
AFP – Two potential vaccines against
the deadly Ebola virus ravaging West
Africa could be available as soon as
November and would first be given to
health care workers most at risk of
exposure to the disease there, the
World Health Organization announced
on Friday, New York Times reports.
The organization also announced that
blood from recovered Ebola patients
and serums derived from that blood
should be used to treat the sick, and it
said treatment centers should quickly
begin testing other experimental
therapies to combat the viral disease,
which has escalated into a devastating
health crisis.
"We have to change the sense there is
no hope in this situation to a realistic
hope," Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, an
assistant director general, told a
telephone news conference at the
conclusion of a two-day meeting at the
organization's Geneva headquarters
aimed at expediting the prevention and
cure of Ebola. The disease has now
killed nearly 2,100 people over the past
six months. Nearly all the deaths have
been in three West African countries —
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — but
clusters of Ebola patients have recently
been found in Nigeria, Africa's most
populous country.
Dr. Kieny said nearly 200 scientists,
ethicists and clinicians from around the
world had reached a consensus in
identifying the most promising vaccines
and potential treatments and
developing strategies for testing them.
The two vaccines, which have not yet
been studied in humans, are set to
undergo initial tests of their safety and
immune system effects beginning this
month in a small number of volunteers
in Britain, the United States and Mali,
which borders Guinea, where the
outbreak emerged.
If the initial safety tests were
encouraging, the vaccines, still under
evaluation, should immediately be
offered in stages to health workers and
other "front line staff" in West Africa,
according to a prioritization plan set by
a panel of ethicists convened earlier this
summer by the W.H.O., Dr. Kieny said.
The pace of testing, and the bypassing
of normal protocols to develop the
vaccines, is "absolutely unprecedented,"
Dr. Kieny said. She said that the vaccine
testing protocol was approved in Mali
within days and that there had been a
"change of all the processes that we
know, for this particular Ebola
While it was likely that patents had
been filed and intellectual property
rights applied to some of the vaccines
and treatments, she said, "so far we've
seen absolutely no problem and no
barrier to the use of these."
Dr. Kieny stressed the importance of
carefully monitoring results to ensure
that vaccines were not harmful and did
not paradoxically make people more
susceptible to the disease. "We must
also be conscious about that — rollout
must happen as quickly as possible but
step by step."
Upward of 10,000 doses of one
vaccine, based on a modified
chimpanzee cold virus, may be
available by the end of the year,
according to materials produced by the
W.H.O. The vaccine is being tested by
its developers, GlaxoSmithKline and the
United States National Institutes of
Health, and a British consortium. An
initial 800 doses of the second vaccine
were donated by the Canadian
government to the W.H.O., Dr. Kieny
"I would love to be the first African" to
receive one of the vaccines, Dr. Samba
Sow, director general at the Center for
Vaccine Development in Mali, told the
news conference.
Participants at the conference also
concluded that countries should be
assisted in offering patients transfusions
of whole blood, plasma, or so-called
convalescent serum produced from the
blood of people who have survived
Ebola. "A blood-derived product can be
used now, and this can be very effective
in terms of treating patients," Dr. Kieny
However, carrying out such efforts will
require strong international support,
given that Ebola treatment centers are
short of staff and overwhelmed with far
more patients than they can handle,
leaving care at the most basic level.
Such blood transfusions were used with
apparent success in several patients
during the 1995 Ebola outbreak in
Kikwit, Zaire, now the Democratic
Republic of Congo. Oyewale Tomori, a
professor of virology at Redeemer's
University in Nigeria, said at the news
conference that blood was being
collected for this purpose from five Ebola
survivors in Nigeria. It was reported that
Dr. Kent Brantly, a missionary doctor
who contracted Ebola in Liberia and
recovered, received a blood transfusion
from a patient that he had treated
before being evacuated to the United
A handful of other potential Ebola
treatments selected for their promise,
including the antibody mixture known
as ZMapp, should be evaluated in
treatment centers in West Africa as
protocols are developed and doses
become available, the W.H.O. said.
Each patient would be informed of the
risks and benefits, and the effects would
be evaluated.
The meeting in Geneva was part of a
broader mobilization within the United
Nations system to counter the spread of
Ebola. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
speaking to reporters in New York,
called the mobilization "an international
rescue call."
"The number of cases is rising
exponentially," he said. "The disease is
spreading far faster than the response.
People are increasingly frustrated that it
is not being controlled."
W.H.O. officials recently estimated it
would cost $600 million to fight the
Ebola scourge, the worst in the nearly
40-year history of the disease, and that
20,000 people could be infected before
it is brought under control. "One of the
things driving fear and panic in the
communities and the world is the belief
there is no treatment," Dr. Kieny said.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

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