Tue Oct 25 06:54:19 SAST 2016

Russia says its Ebola vaccine 'effective' in initial tests

AFP | 16 February, 2016 09:22
People await treatment in the outpatient lounge of Redemption Hospital, formerly an Ebola holding center in Monrovia, Liberia. File photo
Image by: John Moore / Getty Images

Russia's health minister said that an Ebola vaccine developed by the country over the last 15 months had shown encouraging results and would undergo further testing in West Africa.

"Phases one and two of testing were managed in Russia with volunteers and showed that the vaccine was very effective," health minister Veronika Skovortsova told reporters in Geneva.

Skovortsova said the vaccine GamEvac-Combi, developed at a government vaccine research institute, would now be put to additional tests in Guinea.

The West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been hardest-hit by the worst-ever Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 11,300 people since December 2013.

The Russian minister made the comments ahead of a meeting Tuesday with the UN's World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan.

The WHO is hoping to study the Russian findings before giving an opinion on the new vaccine.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told AFP in an email that the UN agency was aware that "Russian regulatory authorities had approved an anti-Ebola vaccine.

"The WHO secretariat is actively hoping for the possibility to study the data," regarding the performance of the vaccine, she added.

According to the Russian official, the preliminary testing showed limited side effects in isolated cases, including headaches and slight body temperature rises.

Russian officials at the briefing who led the testing said the sequential injections led to surge in antibody production among the trial subjects.

So far no approved vaccine or treatment for Ebola exists and the WHO has authorised the fast-track development of drugs.


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