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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Uganda: The Uganda Vaccine Trial - How African Researchers Are Tackling Ebola Virus!
This was after preliminary results of an "Ebola ça suffit" test that proved the safety and efficacy of the Merck-produced rVSV ZEBOV vaccine and is currently being used in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The vaccine is not licensed, but is currently being used in the DRC on compassionate grounds to have the highest risk of infection.

Uganda: The Uganda Vaccine Trial - How African Researchers Are Tackling Ebola Virus!  This was after preliminary results of an "Ebola ça suffit" test that proved the safety and efficacy of the Merck-produced rVSV ZEBOV vaccine and is currently being used in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The vaccine is not licensed, but is currently being used in the DRC on compassionate grounds to have the highest risk of infection.

Back in 2015, some of us felt that his statement was likely too much given that the vaccine was not licensed. Furthermore, we knew from bitter experience that the vaccine was only part of the Ebola response column. Others included community engagement and monitoring.

But since today in the DRC, given the challenges of implementing another vaccine test in the same situation, I had better be Dr. I appreciate Keita's words. I greatly appreciate the courage shown by the Ministry of Health of Uganda in support of the launch of this new trial. Last week researchers at Epicenter, Uganda Virus Research Institute), Mbara University of Science and Technology and London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene launched a new trial in Uganda.

The aim is to provide additional information and to evaluate the safety and immune response generated by the two-dose Ebola vaccine regimen produced by Janssen Vaccines and Prevention. The study will take place at the Epicenter Mbarara Research Center in Mabara in the southwest of the country. It will last for two years and will include 800 healthcare and frontline workers.

What's on trial

The vaccine regimen uses the "prime-boost" approach. It includes two doses 56 days apart. The approach is designed to produce strong and long-lasting immune responses.

The vaccine is notable, another reason being that it may provide protection against other strains of the Ebola virus. While the DRC is mainly affected by Ebola Zaire strains, countries such as Uganda and Sudan have been exposed to outbreaks of other strains, including Ebola Bundibugyo, Ebola Sudan and Marburg virus.

This vaccine may therefore provide great protection for potential Ebola outbreaks, not including the RVSV Ebola vaccine that only addresses Ebola Zaire strains.

The Janssen vaccine may provide an alternative to the merc vaccine used in DRC. This would be ideal because it is important to have various options to prevent and control Ebola virus disease. This is not the case only for Ebola: we cannot imagine having only one drug to treat other diseases like malaria.

Testing in Uganda can also support the DRC in starting its trial on the same vaccine. Experts from the World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group recommend that the new vaccine should be tested in Uganda as well as in DRC areas where no cases have been detected. It will be able to run tests without confusing the population with two different vaccines in the same region.
The possibility of this happening has increased since the resignation of former Health Minister, Ilunga Kalenga in the DRC. He had expressed concern about the implementation of the vaccine. DRC President Felix Tsedekedi has formed an expert committee to lead the Ebola response, which contributed to Kalenga's departure. Professor Jean-Jacques Muembe has been named head of the committee. He was leading the first implementation of the Merck vaccine in the DRC.

What will happen next

The results of the study will be viewed with intense interest for several reasons.

The first is that it is expected to provide evidence that will enable the vaccine to be registered, with the door to be another device with which to fight against Ebola in the DRC and elsewhere.

Another is that the Jensen vaccine can cause strong and long-lasting immune responses against various strains of the Ebola virus, as well as the Marburg virus and Tai Forest virus that affect other African countries.

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