Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has acknowledged the role played by U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac during the catastrophic Ebola crisis Liberia has been facing.
Vice President Boakai in his statement during the launch of the Ebola vaccine trial at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town yesterday said the U.S. Ambassador has demonstrated to the Liberian people that she cares for them and is pleased to be here as an Ambassador.
“When I represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last year at the US-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C, the last two persons who visited me were Ambassador Malac and Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. I told Ambassador Malac to stay in Washington and tell President Obama to make a statement about Liberia’s health crisis which she did and the results are unfolding today,” he said.
According to the Vice President, the Ambassador could have used the Ebola crisis to justify remaining in the United States as citizens there were warned not to make nonessential trips to West Africa.
Despite the life threatening condition that loomed over Liberia and the region, Ambassador Malac convinced herself that Ebola was not airborne, and therefore decided to be with Liberians in the struggle until the disease is eradicated.
He said through the Ambassador’s advocacy the U.S. has tremendously assisted Liberia and through the same partnership a trial vaccine was being launched, putting Liberia in the historical limelight if it works.
V.P. Boakai also indicated that the vaccine trial will be a test of Liberia’s health science studies and will show the potentials of Liberian students studying Science.
Ambassador Malac who expressed excitement about the vaccine’s development optimistically told the gathering at the Redemption Hospital that the partnership between the U.S. and Liberia will help to eradicate the disease and Liberians will become free again.
The trial vaccine is a joint effort by the U.S. and Liberia clinical research partnership under “Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia (PREVAIL).
The Liberia-U.S. Joint Clinical Research Partnership on the other hand is the collaboration between the Government of Liberia and the United States aimed at studying common infectious diseases in Liberia and developing Liberian clinical research capacity.
It started in August 2014 when the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health, Sylvia Burwell, to ask for a Liberia-U.S. collaboration to conduct clinical research to develop vaccines and treatments for Ebola.
The vaccine study took off in October 2014 when the two governments formed a partnership with the goal to learn more about Ebola, find a vaccine to prevent it, and treatments that can heal people coming down with it.
The Ebola vaccine study, called PREVAIL, is a large clinical study led by a Liberia-U.S. clinical research partnership. It is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The study assesses the safety and effectiveness of two test vaccines that are designed to prevent Ebola.
This study of Ebola vaccines at the Redemption Hospital is funded by the Liberian Ministry of Health and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the vaccines being tested are Chad3-EBO-Z which is made by GlaxoSmithKline, and the other, Rvsv-ZEBOV, made by Merck and NewLink.
Meanwhile, the administering of the vaccines to the first 600 volunteers is expected to begin today at the newly renovated clinical research unit of the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, Monrovia.
The study is designed to determine if a single dose of a test vaccine will prevent Ebola virus disease (EVD).
The clinical trial is led by Dr. Stephen Kennedy, MD, MPH, FLCP, (Liberia Co-Principal Investigator), and Dr. H. Clifford Lane, (M.D) Clinical Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
According to PREVAIL, volunteers will receive a detailed explanation of the purpose of the study, what procedures the study entails (e.g., collection of urine and blood samples), the side effects or discomforts that could occur after receiving the vaccination, and any possible benefit that could come from their participation.