Anthony Fauci, who leads the group of US experts developing the vaccine together with GalxoSmithKline (GSK), called the results a “promising factor” and stressed that science is now “one step closer” to a solution.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, the researchers said all 20 volunteers, who participated in the trials, which started some two months ago, produced the immune response.
No serious side effects have been reported, except for high fever which subsided in a day.The White House has congratulated the doctors on the success, saying that the news “is another important milestone” in the effort to fight Ebola. US President Barack Obama is expected to visit the institute next week to thank the researchers.
The US leader is also due to ask the Congress to approve allocation of additional budget funds in 2015 to this aim.
The number of people killed by the Ebola virus has nearly reached 5,700 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in Wednesday’s report. Around 16,000 Ebola cases have been reported in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria and Senegal).
The Ebola virus disease, previously known as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe illness in humans, often fatal, according to the WHO. The virus is passed on to people from wild animals and can be transmitted from humans to humans. The average EVD case death rate is some 50%.
The first outbreaks of the EVD occurred in remote Central African villages, near tropical rainforests. However, major urban and rural areas have been involved in the most recent outbreak in western Africa.
Early supportive care, which includes rehydration and symptomatic treatment, improves the survival rate.
No licensed treatment has yet been proven to be able to neutralize the virus but a number of blood, immunological and drug medications are under development.