Norway-led Ebola vaccine “promising”
M. Michael Brady
Ebola virus disease (EVD), often shortened to Ebola, is a severe, often fatal disease that typically occurs in outbreaks in the tropical regions of sub-Sahara Africa. EVD first appeared in 1976 in two outbreaks, one in Sudan and the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a village near the Ebola River, for which the disease is named. The ongoing outbreak in West Africa that started in March 2014 is the largest and most complex since EVD was first identified.
To date, there are no licensed Ebola vaccines. That may soon change. Starting in March this year, a study of a candidate vaccine is being conducted in Guinea, a country severely affected in the ongoing outbreak. As of early July, of the 11,000 deaths in the outbreak, 2,500 have been in Guinea. The ongoing study is collaboration between the country’s health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), Doctors Without Borders, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The study’s steering committee was headed by Dr. John-Arne Røttingen, Director of the Division of Infections Disease Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The results announced on July 31 were encouraging. As Dr. Røttingen cautiously remarked, “The initial results give us reason to believe this could be the first effective Ebola vaccine developed.”
Dr. Røttingen points out that the study will continue to gather data to further strengthen the evaluation of the vaccine. If verified, the Ebola vaccine most likely may be licensed and available in early 2016.
• Ebola virus disease, World Health Organization Fact Sheet No. 103, updated April 2015, link: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
• “Norwegian-led Ebola vaccine study shows promising results in Guinea,” Norwegian Institute of Public Health press release July 31, 2015, link: www.fhi.no/artikler/?id=115584
• “Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea,” by John-Arne Røttingen on behalf of 28 signatories, The Lancet, Volume 385, No. 9986, p. 2459-2460, June 20, 2015, published online May 22, 2015, link: www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2960656-0/fulltext
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 28, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.