The term Ebola vaccine signifies the vaccines created to prevent the deadly disease of the same name. Some of the vaccines for this purpose have already been developed. While others are in the developing stage. Recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus – Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV) is the first vaccine developed to prevent Ebola. Also referred to as Ervebo, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this vaccine during December 2019. This vaccine was used extensively during the 2018-19 fiscal. However, this was applicable only for cases that requires compassionate uses. Several other vaccines have been tried as well. They have shown immense promise in this regard. This is because, they have been able to prevent primates such as macaque from such deadly infection.
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What do these Ebola vaccines include?
Ebola vaccine contains adenovirus factors that cannot replicate. They also have vesicular stomatitis that is capable of replicating. Apart from these, these vaccines also have nanoparticle preparations. They are a lot like viruses and human parainfluenza vectors. Conventionally, scientists use humans to study the effectiveness of a vaccine. This was in regard to prevent infection from pathogens. This was done once the test subject were immunized. However, that has been deemed unethical in these cases. It is for cases that the FDA has brought about the Animal Efficacy Rule.
Getting a license in these cases
Entities can get licenses if their products receives approval following animal model studies where human diseases have been replicated. At the same time, the applicants need to prove that the product is safe. It should provide an immune response that is potent against such infections. This means that it should put antibodies in the blood of the test subjects. In clinical trials, vaccines are administered on healthy human subjects. It can help scientists study the reaction of the immune system to the same.
Approval for the Ebola vaccine
The FDA approved the aforementioned rVSV-ZEBOV (Ebola vaccine) for individuals 18 years and older. The vaccine was already approved in Europe during November 2019. As such, Ebola is rare in the USA (United States of America). However, the outbreak of disease can claim lots of lives. This is why the approval for the Ebola vaccine can proved to be such a major landmark in this particular context.
Studies that led to the approval
During the period 2014-16, Guinea, an African country, suffered an outbreak of Ebola. During this time some studies were conducted in the context of the use of the Ebola vaccine. The approval granted to Ervebo was based on the results of said study. As per the results of the study, the vaccine was almost completely effective in stopping people from contracting the dreaded disease. The symptom onset, in this case, was higher than 10 days following vaccination. The following countries alos examined the vaccine and experienced the same results:
- Sierra Leone
How was the Ebola vaccine produced?
The credit for developing the Ebola vaccine across three continents – Africa, Europe, and North America – goes to a Canadian scientist named Gary Kobinger. It was in 2014 that the disease started to erupt at an exponential rate across West Africa. At that time, Kobinger was following the news with all intent from Canada. He was working in the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg as the head of the special pathogens unit. He and his team were already well known for their prior work in this domain of viral hemorrhagic fevers. At that time, Kobinger himself was leading the development of a therapy that could deal with Ebola.
It was rather promising as well. The lab at Winnipeg had itself been working on developing a vaccine for Ebola. This had been going on for many years. The vaccine had been highly successful in the animal model tests. The lab had also come out with vaccines that could be used on humans. They were hoping of testing it on actual human subjects. However, as of April 2014 it was yet to happen. There was not much interest from the ones that mattered such as pharmaceutical companies and WHO (World Health Organization).
This is where Kobinger took the onus on himself. And therefore, in the end, his along with his colleagues’ efforts made a major difference in this context.
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