The world may well be rid of one of the most deadly, devastating diseases of our generation.
An interim analysis of a trial of a vaccine to protect against the deadly ebola virus has been called “highly effective,” the World Health Organization announced today. The vaccine is made by Merck and was tested in Guinea.
"This is an extremely promising development," said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in a statement.
Despite the early signs of success of the new drug, the independent monitoring group that conducted the review recommended that the trial should continue.
So far, the vaccine has shown 100-percent efficacy in preventing ebola in individuals. More than 4,000 individuals have voluntarily received the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine as part of the Phase 3 trial which began in March, according to Merck. In total, 9,000 individuals have received the vaccine across all three trials.
To completely eradicate the deadly disease -- which most recently swept through parts of Africa last year, devastating communities and killing thousands of people -- anyone who may have come in contact with an infected person would get vaccinated.
Ebola has infected 28,000 people and killed 11,000 of those in the last 20 months, according to a statement from Gavi, a global public-private partnership that works to get new vaccines to those who need them.
Gavi released a statement today pressing for the expeditious distribution of the ebola vaccine. The global organization also commended the international community for expediting processes to make this vaccine available.
“The consortium of partners should be congratulated on the remarkable speed with which it put together these important and practical trials,” said Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley, in a written statement. “The global community will rightly expect the pace – alongside a high level of diligence – to be maintained so that people in affected communities and others living in countries at risk of Ebola can have access to a vaccine as soon as possible.”Related: How One Man Brought Health Care to India's Poorest Populations