An experimental vaccine against Ebola epidemics in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is delivering promising results, said a new World Health Organization (WHO) study on Friday.
The vaccine showed an efficiency of 97.5%. In August last year, 93,965 people at risk were vaccinated. Only 71 of them developed Ebola.
Of the 71 people, nearly 56 had symptoms within 10 days of receiving the vaccine. It takes about 10 days for the vaccine to develop immunity to the virus.
The other 15 people contracted the virus ten days after vaccination.
“No deaths were reported among vaccinees who developed Ebola with onset 10 or more days after vaccination. These early results confirm previous observations of high efficacy of (rVSV-ZEBOV-GP) Ebola vaccine against the disease,” the study said.
Health officials are taking the ring vaccine strategy to vaccinate only the most frequently infected individuals to test the Ebola vaccine. The procedure was first adopted to prevent the spread of smallpox.
“The ring vaccination strategy is a highly efficient delivery strategy for Ebola vaccines during outbreaks,” the WHO maintained.
The frequent Ebola epidemics have created a major health problem worldwide. During the recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), approximately 1,206 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola infection have been reported.
The virus killed dozens of people in the northern provinces of Kivu and Ituri.
Fearing an Ebola outbreak, the European Union, Russia and China are developing vaccines against the Ebola virus. There are currently more than 15 vaccines in various stages of testing.
According to the WHO statement issued last year, pharmaceutical companies have committed to increasing their production capacity once the vaccine has passed the required tests. “This could be the fastest vaccine in history.”
Despite the growing number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, senior WHO officials refused on Friday to declare the epidemic a global health emergency.
“It was the view of the Committee the ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu, and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC),” said Robert Steffen, chair of the WHO committee convened in an emergency declaration.