A joint Liberia-United States Clinical Research Partnership, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is expected shortly to test the first of two distinct Ebola vaccines in the country.
The two Ebola vaccines which are scheduled for the clinical trial are ChAd-3 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), according to an official at the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA).
Madam Margaret Sherman, an official of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia (PREVAIL), said the research is intended to find out which of the two vaccines is the best to combat the Ebola virus disease.
The program which was launched in the Borough of New Town over the weekend brought together chiefs, elders, women and youth groups to learn about the significance of the two drugs.
Madam Sherman said that the event was intended to provide an opportunity for people to participate in the testing of the new vaccines.
Madam Sherman is also the CEO of Clinical Operations of Global Research Partners in Liberia.
She, however, quickly clarified that contrary to reports the vaccines are not intended to spread the Ebola virus as has been perceived. They are intended, instead, to help verify the best one in order to combat future outbreaks of Ebola, she emphasized.
She said the vaccines, having been tested in other countries around the world that were hit by the virus with positive results, “it is important for Liberia which was hardest hit by Ebola to form part of the testing process.”
About 27,000 Liberians across Ebola-affected communities have already been targeted for the program, which will last for eight months.
She asserted that the experimental process will focus on people between the ages of 18 and above as well as affected Ebola communities in order to test the vaccines properly.
The CEO further noted that if completed, the findings of the experiment will be used to select one of the two vaccines that will be used to combat the Ebola virus.
The experiment will be characterized by a thorough screening process to determine the status and condition of people who will be taking any of the experimental vaccines, she said.
She, however, added that key among the screening processes will include kidney and liver tests and HIV/AIDS status of people who will show up for the program.
She emphasized that screening before the experiment is part of activities to ensure that those who will participate remain healthy and are qualified to take part in the trial.
Making remarks on behalf of the people of New Kru, where the experimental campaign was launched, the Chairman of Momboe Town East, George Brown, welcomed the initiative adding that it will help the world to combat future outbreaks of the deadly virus, which as yet has no known cure.
Mr. Brown said the experimental process demonstrates the world’s readiness to adequately combat the disease, which has claimed the lives of many Liberians and other nationals.
He pledged his commitment to work along with the different communities in that region to ensure that the project becomes a success.
The Momboe Town East chairman has called on every Liberian, irrespective of status or religion, to join in taking advantage of the process as PREVAIL carries out its exercise.