A new Ebola vaccine will be tested in the coming days for the first time in humans in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The vaccine was developed jointly by the American Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and GlaxoSmithKline.
Officially, the tests were planned so that participants can not get the dangerous disease, however, it must be asked whether there are people who are willing to trust government agencies and pharmaceutical companies whose only goal is to make millions of dollars in profits.
The first step in this type of test is to see how the drugs are tolerated. In other words, humans who volunteer for this trial will be injected with a vaccine whose effects are still unknown.
American authorities have anticipated the human tests due to the supposed Ebola epidemic, which has killed around 1,500 people in West Africa.
“There is an urgent need for a vaccine that protects against the Ebola and it is important to ensure that the vaccine is safe,” said immunologist Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID.
The tests will be conducted near Washington and will include 20 healthy adults between 18 and 50 years of age. Doctors want to see if the vaccine already tested in monkeys, is safe and what effect it has on the immune system. The process will last 48 weeks and participants will be subject to regular checks, Fauci said.
Authorities and GlaxoSmithKline staff who will perform the experiments will use a modified adenovirus vaccine, which will also be tested in other countries.
“The start of Phase 1 in the study of this Ebola vaccine is the first step in a long process,” warned Fauci. There will be no results until the end of 2014.
Currently there are no vaccines or any other tested pharmaceuticals against the Ebola virus, a disease that rarely causes bleeding and that only spreads through direct contact of bodily fluids.
While unfounded fear has been raised by health officials about the so-called Ebola pandemic, according to the record kept by medics who have dealt with alleged Ebola victims, half of the patients have been cured without any treatment and doctors still don’t know exactly why.
Other patients have been given ZMapp an experimental drug that consists of three antibodies that bind to proteins of Ebola and thus seeks to help the immune system to defend itself and eliminate infected cells. The drug, made from the tobacco plant, has been already distributed in areas where Ebola seems to have spread more rapidly.
The current version of the Ebola virus appeared in late 2013, apparently in Guinea, from where it went to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in July. Although the outbreak seems to be under control, on Friday it was reported that Senegal discovered the first case of Ebola since the virus began to sicken people in Africa.
The World Health Organization has said that the country tracked the movements of the patient, a Guinean student of 21 years of age who came to Dakar over land on August 20. The man, who has not been identified, was living with relatives outside the Senegalese capital.
Three days after arriving he requested medical assistance due to symptoms such as fever, diarrhea and vomiting. He was diagnosed with malaria and returned home to his family. It is unknown if he moved to other places.
When his symptoms did not improve, he was referred to a specialist in infectious diseases in Dakar on August 26, where an alert came after the Guinean authorities warned of a patient under observation who had evaded monitoring. This warming prompted medics to perform further analysis and to determine that it was a case of Ebola.
Until 26 August, the death toll stood at 1,552 with another 3,069 suspect cases.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.