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Ebola Sudan vaccine trials start in Kampala

FILE PHOTO: Ebola vaccine

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Recruitment of participants for the experimental vaccine for Ebola Sudan has started in Kampala. At least 40 people comprising males and females are expected to participate in the 48 week’s study by Makerere Walter Reed Project.

The study will use the VRC-EBOADC086-00-VP vaccine that was developed by the Vaccine Research Center and the National Institute of Health-NIH in Maryland, USA. The trials are being sponsored by the NIH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center, U.S Military HIV Research Program and the U.S Department of Defense.

Participants will undergo medical tests before they are screened and finally selected for the trial. The selected participants will sign consent forms and should be aged between 18 and 50 years of age among other requirements.

Dr. Betty Mwesigwa, the principal investigator of the study, says the vaccine that will be used is experimental in nature. “The vaccine that we are using is still in its experimental stages. We don’t know if it will work to prevent the Sudan strain of Ebola.”

He says the US Food and Drug Administration vaccine hasn’t approved the vaccine for use in humans. The Ebola Sudan trial is the second Ebola virus disease trial that is scheduled to take place this year. Ebola Sudan is one of five known strains of the Ebola Virus disease in the world. The others are; Ebola Tai, Zaire, Bundibugyo and Reston-which only affects primates.

Early this month, trials for the Ebola Zaire vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Company begun in Mbarara University of Science and Technology. Dr. Bernard Opar, the Assistant Commissioner for Clinical Services in the Health Ministry, says the trials will open doors to more vaccines that will prevent Ebola virus disease.

“It means we are getting more prepared to understand the Ebola vaccine and the disease. Currently, there’s only vaccine that is being used. The testing of additional vaccines is a very positive development because it means that we shall a number of vaccines that can handle different Ebola strains,” he said.

There have been four Ebola Sudan outbreaks in the world. Two in Southern Sudan, one in Sudan and another in Uganda. In 2012, Uganda had an outbreak of Ebola Sudan, and a total of 24 cases were confirmed.

17 people succumbed to the disease during the outbreak. The mortality rate of the Ugandan outbreak was 53 percent and on average it takes an infected person eight days to pass away from the time when they are infected if they don’t receive treatment.

Following the 2018 outbreak of Ebola in DRC, Uganda has so far vaccinated over 6000 health and frontline workers with the only known experimental Ebola-rV5V vaccine that was developed by Merck pharmaceuticals.

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