Economist report on new Ebola vaccines underlines dangers

Economist report on new Ebola vaccines underlines dangers

September 11, 2014

The Economist carries a report about the Ebola vaccines, which are currently being fast tracked for use. The report openly states just how dangerous these vaccines are. One contains “live, replicating viruses that infect cells and carries Ebola proteins to the host.”


“scientists and health officials will have to bypass many of the existing rules that govern the delivery of new drugs…”

Phase 1 trials are used to test whether a drug is safe in healthy individuals, after which a series of further trials establish whether it works. But in this case, vaccines are expected to be offered directly to health-care workers in infected areas once the initial tests are complete. The effects of the vaccine would then be monitored in the field.

The NIH/GSK vaccine is based on a benign virus which causes a cold in chimpanzees (an adenovirus). It is able to infect cells and deliver fragments of genetic material from two variations of Ebola (one of which is the Zaire strain responsible for the current outbreak). When Ebola proteins are expressed by infected cells, an immune response is triggered. A version using a single strain of Ebola is also being tested.

Another candidate vaccine was developed many years ago by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It was recently licensed by NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa, which has approval to start phase 1 trials. This jab is based on a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), a livestock infection that resembles foot-and-mouth disease. VSV has been used previously to develop vaccines. The new vaccine, VSV-EBOV, is a live, replicating virus that infects cells and carries Ebola viral proteins into the host. Again, this stimulates an immune response.

The results of the safety trials will start to arrive in November, and vaccines may be provided immediately to health-care workers who agree to be injected—some vaccine production is already under way.

Experts hope they will be safe…

Other antivirals, such as Favipiravir, an influenza treatment, might also help. But more data from animal tests are needed. ” (Note the Japanese drug Favipiravir has passed clinical tests. Why are more data needed from animals? Are West Africans considered animals?)

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