Kenya trials for vac­cines en­ter fi­nal stages

The East African - - OUTLOOK - By AN­GELA OKETCH Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

RE­SEARCHERS AT the Keri­chobased Kenya Med­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute/wal­ter Reed Project Clinical Re­search Cen­tre are fi­nal­is­ing hu­man trials of Ebola vac­cines in the coun­try.

The vac­cines dubbed Ad. 26 ZEBOV and MVA-BN-FILO have al­ready been ad­min­is­tered to 122 healthy adults in Keri­cho County in the Rift Val­ley and its en­vi­rons. The phase II study is eval­u­at­ing the safety, tol­er­a­bil­ity and im­muno­genic­ity of the two vac­cines.

“We have fin­ished vac­ci­nat­ing the par­tic­i­pants. We are now do­ing clinical and lab­o­ra­tory as­sess­ment to mon­i­tor for safety is­sues and also test­ing whether the vac­cine can pro­voke an im­mune re­sponse in the body,” said an as­so­ci­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tor at Kemri, Josphat Kos­gei.

Sim­i­lar trials are al­ready tak­ing place in US, Uganda, Tan­za­nia and Nige­ria. The pa­tients will be fol­lowed for one year.

Early trials

“So far, we have not heard any re­port on safety is­sues and the early trials re­sults will be pro­vided to­wards the end of the year,” said Dr Kos­gei.

Al­though no cases of Ebola have been re­ported in Kenya, the medics noted that demon­strat­ing the vac­cine was safe and that it of­fered im­mu­nity against the deadly dis­ease.

Ebola is highly in­fec­tious and is usu­ally fa­tal. There is no vac­cine to pre­vent it or li­censed treat­ment for the dis­ease, al­though a range of ex­per­i­men­tal drugs are be­ing de­vel­oped. Early care with re­hy­dra­tion may boost chances of survival.

If ap­proved, the vac­cine could help in health­care emer­gency re­sponse set­tings fol­low­ing an out­break and pro­tect sci­en­tists who work with the Ebola virus.

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