In the immediate aftermath of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, several drug companies quickly ramped up work on developing a vaccine for the deadly virus. Now, one of those vaccines is undergoing trials in Mali and, if testing goes as planned, it will be deployed in the hardest-hit West African nations in an effort to protect healthcare workers.
Mali has no known Ebola cases, though shares a border with Guinea, the nation in which the outbreak began. According to The Guardian, three healthcare workers there have been given the experimental vaccine to test that it has no adverse effects. It's reported that 37 more workers will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks before it can be used in Ebola-stricken nations. The efficacy of the vaccine will largely remain unknown until it is used in areas hit with the virus.
As many as 10,000 doses may be ready by year's end
The vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland, has been fast-tracked in hopes that it can help turn the tide in the battle against the virus. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was tested on volunteers in the US and UK. Last month, it was successfully tested in monkeys with no ill effects. It's not unusual for a typical vaccine to take as long as a year to go through the same process.
It's said that as many as 10,000 doses of the vaccine, which uses a cold virus to deliver a inactive portion of the Ebola virus to the body, could be ready by year's end. The focus, however, is on protecting doctors and other healthcare workers in the region, with hopes that a reliable vaccine could bring more health workers to the area.