Is Ebola Going to be as easy to Avoid as the Flu?
Abby Nicodemus (11 AM Micro) found a news alert in Science Daily that describes some of the latest findings in the search for a vaccine against Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. I would like to point out that in answer to Abby’s title for this piece that the answer is “yes”; Ebola is going to be as easy to avoid as the flu, and is in fact already easier to avoid than the flu. Snarky commentary aside, as Abby states that this approach will go far to address some of the public fears about this disease. Here is Abby’s summary:
Is it possible that one of the most feared diseases can be prevented by a simple injection? Becoming more aware of the outbreaks in Africa, the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has produced an experimental vaccine intended to fight against the advances of Ebola. The goal of this vaccine is to bring “this epidemic to an end” and to play a role in “preventing future large outbreaks”. This vaccination would calm many worries and put many American’s fears to rest. Perhaps the Ebola vaccination will gain popularity similar to that of the Influenza vaccine and it will protect the American population.
A clinical trial involving 20 healthy participants was conducted to observe the effects of this experimental vaccine. The main priority of the scientists is to ensure that this vaccine is safe, so it does not cause harm to the members of the trial. The participants of the trial were observed after being injected with the “Ebola vaccine”. Results showed that each of the 20 members responded positively to the vaccination, during which the vaccination also “produced immune system response”. The next step is to test whether or not the vaccine is effective in warding off Ebola. Based off the positive feedback from the first trial, scientists are continuing to work on and improve the existing Ebola vaccination.
Another set of trial participants were injected with two different doses of the vaccine and monitored for the formation of antibodies against Ebola. All participants of this trial built antibodies within four weeks. However a notable difference was noted in the number of antibodies between the higher dose and the lower dose, the higher dose causing the growth of more antibodies than the lower dose. An increase in the amount of T cells in the subject’s blood led to a better protection against the virus. Once animal test subjects, who were previously treated with the vaccine, were exposed to the virus, they appeared to remain protected.
With no serious side effects tagged along to the vaccine, apart from “two people who received the higher dose vaccine… [developing a] briefly lasting fever within a day of vaccination”, continuing innovation will make this vaccine more readily available. According to Spiegel Online, scientists are frantically working to find the antidote to Ebola, so that infected persons in West Africa can begin to get treated. West Africa is the country with the biggest outbreak of Ebola, so it is important to target it first and foremost. Prevention of Ebola in West Africa will help to decrease the number of cases and to draw the epidemic to a close. One drawback involved in this research and work is the lack of funding. It is sometimes difficult for researchers to get the money needed to conduct research to aid in the termination of Ebola as a worldwide virus and concern.