The World Health Organisation has announced that a phase III trial of the VSV-EBOV vaccine will begin in Guinea on the 7th March, to test its efficacy against Ebola.
Prof. Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said:
“There’s been excellent progress in the fight against this virus – especially in Liberia where there are currently no new cases.
“But the virus rumbles on in Sierra Leone and Guinea and it’s important that it is brought under control in these countries.
“We can’t assume that these trial vaccines are the panacea. That’s why we need these phase III trials; to tell us if the vaccine works and protects against ebolavirus infection. Running these trials won’t be easy, you need appropriate infrastructure, adequately trained staff and community engagement. I am sure that the various stakeholders – WHO, charities, funders and the Guinean government – have been working hard to ensure that the pieces of the jigsaw are in place.
“Until we know whether these vaccines work, the only real protection against the virus will be continued effort to prevent and control virus infection and to educate and engage with people. This also needs to continue with zeal.”
Prof. Miles Carroll, Head of Research Microbiology Services for PHE, said:
“This is a significant milestone and a real step forward in development of the first Ebola vaccine, and I’m delighted to have been part of the European team supporting this work here in Guinea.
“I have also volunteered to be vaccinated in the trial, to help show the local population the vaccine is safe, and with the help and expertise of my Public Health England colleagues in the UK we have constructed a lab in Guinea to assist with processing blood samples from the trial.”
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said:
“It’s fantastic to see large scale efficacy trials of this promising Ebola vaccine getting underway in Guinea. Testing investigational medicines during an epidemic is incredibly challenging, but this approach gives us the best possible chance of finding a safe and effective vaccine in time to save lives during the current epidemic, and to help us prepare for future outbreaks. Just getting to this point is a phenomenal achievement and one that would not have been possible without the hard work and unprecedented global collaboration between public and private entities, governments and the local communities in the three affected regions.”
Dr Jeremy Farrar: The Wellcome Trust is providing funding for this trial.
Prof Miles Carroll is currently working in the European Mobile Lab (funded by the EU) in Guinea and has agreed to be vaccinated in the trial.