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The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Tuesday that it will begin clinical trials November 1 in Switzerland of one of the two anti-Ebola vaccines currently under development. WHO Assistant Director-General Marie Paule Kieny said the reason that the trials, set to be held at Lausanne, Switzerland, were important was that they include half of the total number of volunteers who would be given the vaccine.
This will contribute to the correct determination of its safety and immunogenic properties, in addition to establishing the required dosages for its use. One of the vaccines, NIAD/GSK, was developed in Britain by GlaxoSmithKline and is already being tested on volunteers in the US, Britain and Mali. The other vaccine, VSV-EBOV, was produced in Canada, whose government has donated large amounts of it to the WHO. The batch will arrive in Geneva Tuesday. (Read: )
These vaccines are contained in 800 ampoules that will be kept in the Cantonal Hospital in Geneva, and sent from there as needed to other countries where trials take place. It will be the most important stage of the first phase of the clinical trials that already started in the US with a small number of volunteers, Kieny declared, and added that the trials would be extended next week to Germany, Gabon and Kenya. (Read: What is the Ebola virus disease survival rate?)
The minimum requirement for the trials to take place is 250 healthy people between 18 and 65 years of age. Kieny said that nearly half of the participants are in Switzerland. Around 120 people for each vaccine will take part in the trial. The results, according to Kieny, will be determined in December, and if they are positive, vaccines will be sent to the African countries stricken with Ebola by January. Although no official decision has been announced as yet, there is a consensus between WHO experts and humanitarian organisations that priority access to the vaccines should go to people who work on the ground, whether in the health sector, or those who see to burials, as well as relatives who take care of patients. (Read: What is the Ebola incubation period?)
Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) with answers about the deadly Ebola disease -
How is the Ebola virus disease caused?
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a contagious disease caused by infection with one of the four strains of the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus belongs to the family of Filoviridae and the viral strains with potential for infection in humans are Zaire, Bundibugyo, Tai Forest and Sudan virus.
How does it spread?
The Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with the body fluids (semen, sweat, saliva and blood), infected objects (needles) and close skin contact with an infected person. It can also be transmitted through close contact with infected animals (handling the meat) and consumption of uncooked meat.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Ebola virus usually appear between 2 to 21 days after being infected with the virus. The early symptoms include high fever (greater than 38.6 C), headache, drop in blood pressure and stomach pain. Whereas late signs of Ebola infections which indicate medical emergency are sore throat, jaundice, skin rashes, bleeding and loss of appetite. Readmore about Ebola facts frequently asked questions (FAQ)
With inputs from IANS
Photo source: Getty images
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