UNITED KINGDOM – The University of Oxford has started recruiting for a Phase I trial to test an Ebola vaccine in human volunteers against the Ebola species endemic in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe disease that can be fatal, with an average fatality rate of around 50%.
There is currently no licensed treatment or Ebola vaccine available in the UK for infected patients.
The University of Oxford will test the new Ebola vaccine’s immune response and safety on healthy people.
The 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa cost over 11,000 lives and had a devastating impact on healthcare systems.
Sporadic Ebola virus outbreaks continue to occur in affected countries, endangering the lives of individuals, particularly frontline health workers. More vaccines are needed to combat this deadly disease.
The study will include 26 healthy participants aged 18 to 55 who will each receive one dose of the Ebola vaccine at the university.
Following vaccination, all participants will be monitored over a six-month period, with results expected in the second quarter of 2022. A second trial of the vaccine is set to begin in Tanzania by the end of 2021.
The ChAdOx1 virus, a weakened version of the common cold virus (adenovirus) that has been genetically modified so that it cannot replicate in humans, serves as the basis for the Ebola vaccine.
This vector has previously been used with success in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine – also known as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Recent advances have resulted in the approval of vaccines against one of the viruses responsible for Ebola virus disease.
However, this disease can be caused by a variety of virus species, and each of these may necessitate a tailored immune response to provide protection.
The new Ebola virus vaccine poised for testing in Phase I clinical trials has been designed in a manner that it targets the two virus species that have caused nearly all Ebolavirus outbreaks and deaths
Ongoing ebolavirus disease outbreaks
Though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed the Ebola virus threat, parts of Africa are still dealing with the infectious disease.
The most serious outbreak began in 2014, and the number of cases raised enough concern that pharmaceutical companies worked to develop vaccine programs against the virus as soon as possible.
Guinea’s health authorities declared a new Ebola outbreak in February 2021, after the West African country saw its first cases of the disease since the end of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, which claimed over 11,000 lives.
Preliminary genetic sequencing data indicate that the new outbreak was caused by the same virus strain that was responsible for the 2014-2016 outbreak, and that it was most likely reintroduced by a survivor.
The WHO and the government of Sierra Leone began administering J&J’s Ebola vaccine regimen in May of this year as part of an early access clinical program aimed at preventing the disease’s spread in West Africa.