Ebola Vaccine Team Reaches out to Civil Society Groups

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After admitting to the error of not providing media and civil society groups with enough information about the Ebola vaccine trial in the country, Liberian scientist and co-investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL), Dr. Stephen Kennedy, held a meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to apprise them of the significance and safety of the vaccine.

At a recent meeting with CSOs at the Search for Common Ground’s office on 15th Street in Sinkor, Dr. Kennedy explained that the experimental vaccine was important not only for creating an immune system against Ebola, but developing Liberia’s capacity to study common infectious diseases and developing the nation’s clinical research capacity.

He also noted that the vaccine trial is important to Liberia because if it is workable and the confidence in the vaccine is built around the world, Liberia will stand to make history.

He assured the CSOs that the two vaccines being administered in Liberia have gone through and passed the pre-clinical trial phase of development and have been administered to over 500 people in phase one clinical trials in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Mali.

He disclosed that none of those who participated in the trials have died or suffered any serious side effects.

According to Dr. Kennedy, the two vaccines under trial are the CHAD-3 and VSV vaccines, and their trial is a result of the World Health Organization’s recommendation to fast track the research to develop an Ebola vaccine.

He recounted that the ongoing phase two clinical trials target 600 people, adding that if data from the trial is encouraging, phase three trials will begin to determine whether one or both of the vaccines will be licensed for use as an Ebola prevention substance.

The PREVAIL Co-investigator indicated that over the first week of the vaccine trials, 108 people were administered the vaccines exceeding the initial expectation of vaccinating 12 people a day.

Dr. Kennedy told the gathering that Phase One trial considers immediate safety concerns in drug development, and it only happens in countries that do not have outbreaks and target less than a hundred people in each location.

This history-making initiative, if proven successful, Dr. Kennedy added, “will enable Liberia to make royalties from future sales if any of the vaccines and Liberia will receive a stock of the vaccine free of charge for use in any future outbreaks of Ebola.”

The establishment of the partnership to study and provide vaccines for Ebola was initiated by Health Minister Walter Gwenigale when he wrote his US counterpart in August last year at the height of the Ebola outbreak.

  The chairman of the Task Force, Oscar Bloh, thanked Dr. Kennedy for taking time off his busy schedule to explain the vaccine’s trial process to the group which, he said, would greatly inform the civil society's anti-Ebola activities.

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