A principal co-investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) has announced that Liberia is now opting for a regional approach for the third phase trial of the Ebola vaccines.
Dr. Stephen Kennedy told a news conference yesterday that PREVAIL had made the decision because Liberia no longer has any confirmed Ebola case, therefore the third phase cannot go ahead in the country.
He stated that it can only be carried out where there are confirmed cases of the virus transmission.
After holding two meetings on how to solve the problem of phase three trial, Dr. Moses Massaquoi, a senior official at the Incident Management System (IMS), led a team to Guinea and Sierra Leone to meet with authorities of both nations, on finding a way for the phase three trial to proceed.
Dr. Kennedy stated that phase three trial is very important because it would reveal whether the vaccines truly work or not against the virus.
“The window of opportunity is closing. Liberia no longer has any case and in the next few days could be declared Ebola-free. The infection rate in Sierra Leone is dropping and Guinea is showing some progress, too, so this is the time before we miss this opportunity for the trial,” he emphasized.
According to him, if phase three, the last phase of the trial, does not happen while this outbreak is still ongoing, the world would have to wait for the next outbreak before beginning from “scratch” to find a vaccine for the virus.
The virus has reportedly killed 11,005 in the three most affected countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. As of May 6, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there have been over 26,593 suspected, probable and confirmed cases in all three worst-hit nations.
Dr. Kennedy stated that discussions with their colleagues in the other two nations have been fruitful but those technocrats will need to obtain their politicians’ approvals before the phase three trial can start in each of the two countries.
He said he’s hoping that it can begin by July this year.
Regarding the phase 2 study which was conducted in Liberia, he announced that PREVAIL had successfully completed vaccinating 1,500 volunteers.
According to him, all of the volunteers, including himself, will be tracked for 12 months from the date of their enrollment.