First Vaccine to Provide Immunity against the Deadly Ebola Virus

New vaccine to fight the Ebola Virus from infecting people – not really a cure but certainly prevention – protection from getting infected by the dreaded virus.

First Vaccine to Provide Immunity against the Deadly Ebola Virus

Why get infected by the Ebola Virus, in the first place, when you have a vaccine that can prevent it from happening – the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine!

While a number of similar vaccines are being tested, the Public Health Agency of Canada developed the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine which has shown positive results in so far as protection against contracting the virus or related disease is concerned.

Ebola Virus
Ebola Virus

However, a guaranteed cure has not yet been found for the Ebola Virus Disease and this has been confirmed on the WHO website.

The Canadian health agency may have found the first effective vaccine to prevent the infection and spread of the deadly Ebola – the virus is so deadly and feared that we don’t need to add virus after its name – it has adopted its own notorious identity.

Just the word ‘Ebola’ is enough to invoke fear, especially in places where infection has been rampant and have reached epidemic proportions in the recent past.

The pharmaceutical giant Merck manufactured the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine and the early results were pretty much encouraging in 2015. The effectiveness of the vaccine has been further endorsed according to a recently published report in Lancet.

Let’s make an attempt to understand this step by step.

What is the Ebola Virus (EBOV)?
According to the Wikipedia explanation on the subject of Ebola:
“EBOV, (formerly designated Zaire ebolavirus) is one of five known viruses within the genus Ebolavirus. Four of the five known ebolaviruses, including EBOV, cause a severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and other mammals, known as Ebola virus disease (EVD).”

The most recent Ebola epidemic was in West Africa killing over, 11,000 and infecting around 15,000 people

The Ebola virus (EBOV) is believed to thrive in Bats particularly “fruitbatss” and the spread and transmission of the virus or resultant Ebola Virus Disease (EBD) can come from:

a. Human to human:
Those who come in contact with EBOV or EBD infected people are the most vulnerable to the infection; especially those who are in regular contact with affected people, such as, an EBOV or EBD family member, doctors, nurses and attendants in hospitals.

However, health care workers are trained and follow certain safety norms laid down in their rule books

b. Animals to humans:
Interaction with animals is as common as with our own species, whether one likes it or not. Coming in contact with infected animals carries the potential risk of contracting the EBOV.

Again, as in human to human contacts, increased frequency of the contacts makes one more susceptible, for example, Zoo workers, Animal welfare workers, pet owners with an infected animal at home. Being bitten or stung by an infected animal can also transmit the virus to humans.

The first human trials for an Ebola vaccine have begun
Ebola: Race for a vaccine

Symptoms of EVD
The symptoms are generally felt between 2 and 21 days after getting infected with EBOV.
However, humans are not considered contagious until the symptoms start appearing.

Here are some common symptoms, which at times can be mistaken for some other disease having similar symptoms:

Here’s the chronological order of symptoms of EVD as the disease advances:

* Fever accompanied by a sore throat, headaches, and muscular pain
* Vomiting, diarrhea, and rash
* Decreased function of the liver and kidneys.

Treatment:
EVD patients’ treatment is mostly symptomatic and includes rehydration fluids, orally or intravenous. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD”

The rVSV-ZEBOV testing phase involved more than 11,000 people from Guinea, a western Africa country which was highly affected by the latest Ebola epidemic.

Ebola vaccine found safe and effective in final trial: WHO
Ebola vaccine found safe and effective in final trial: WHO

A brief on the tests on 11,000 people from Guinea conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and their findings:
* A list of people who had come in contact with confirmed EVD sufferers was compiled.
* They were then randomly selected to receive the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine immediately or three weeks later.
* The volunteers were then tested for the presence of EBOV 10 days after administering the vaccine.
* No cases of EBOV was found in those who were given the vaccine immediately.
* There were 23 cases of EBOV among the people who were administered the vaccine three weeks late.

Side effects of rVSV-ZEBOV:
PHAC monitored the side effects of the vaccine for 3months after the immunization and found moderately few cases of headaches, muscle pain, fever and anaphylaxis (an allergy that is serious and potentially fatal).

PHAC may not have found the cure for EVD sufferers, but have taken a pioneering leap toward prevention of the EBOV spreading to epidemic proportions.

Meanwhile, following the early positive results of the tests, the manufacturer Merck of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine has agreed to provide 300,000 doses of the vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use among health care workers and others who are at risk due to higher exposure to the virus.

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