An Ebola Vaccine Is On The Way

The Lancet published that preliminary testing of the Guinea Phase III efficacy vaccine trial has proven that VSV-EBOV (Merck, Sharp & Dohme) is extremely effective against Ebola. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board conducted the review and concluded that trial testing should continue.

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Up to this point, the vaccine has shown 100% efficacy in individuals. However, the Guinean national regulatory authority wants to see more conclusive evidence that the vaccine can protect large populations through, “herd immunity.” In which, the vaccine would be a form of indirect protection from infectious disease when the majority of the population has become immune to an infection, in that, it would provide certain protection for non-immune individuals.

The Guinea vaccination trial began in late March of 2015, evaluating the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of a single dose of the VSV-EBOV vaccine in affected communities. The vaccine trial is actually based on the smallpox eradication strategy – using the ‘ring’ vaccination method. The idea behind this method is that by vaccinating every person that has come into contact with an infected individual, a protective ring will form and stop the disease from spreading further.

To this date, over 4,000 individuals that were in close contact of 100 Ebola patients such as family members, neighbors, and co-workers have participated in the trial. On July 26, the trial stopped randomization so that all people that were at risk could receive the vaccine immediately and minimize the necessary time to gather more conclusive evidence. Now this has stopped and 50 % of the rings have been vaccinated 3 weeks after the identification of an infected individual to have a comparison with the rings that were vaccinated immediately. The trial will also include new evidence of the vaccine’s safety for 13 to 17-year olds and possibly 6 to 12-year-old children.

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“In parallel with the ring vaccination, we are also conducting a trial of the same vaccine on frontline workers,” said Bertrand Draguez, Medical Director at Médecins sans Frontières. “If the vaccine is effective, then we are already protecting them from the virus. With such high efficacy, all affected countries should immediately start and multiply ring vaccinations to break chains of transmission and vaccinate all frontline workers to protect them.”

Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director of the World Health Organization gives credit to the Guinean Government, peopling living in the communities, and their other partners in the project. Dr. Sakoba Keita, Guinea’s national coordinator for the Ebola response sees the vaccine as Guinea’s gift to West Africa and the word. He acknowledges thousands of volunteers from across the country comprising of doctors, data managers and community mobilizers for contributing to the success of the vaccine so far.

The Creation of the “World Bank Rival”

China’s new financial organization, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (A.I.I.B.) has simultaneously sparked tension and gained momentum and support. The opposition seems to hail primarily from the United States, citing concerns that the AIIB could undermine the World Bank, and possibly spur poor oversight and minimally governed financial practices. Just last month, the largest economies in Europe- France, Germany and Italy, announced their desire to become founding members of AIIB. This decision followed closely behind the United Kingdom, whose decision to join drew public admonishment from the White House, which is not recognized as common behavior. More than 50 countries have now signed on to join the AIIB initiative.

Launched in October 2014, the AIIB has the potential to trigger economic growth for China. Xi Jinping, China’s president and Communist Party Chief, initially proposed funding to poor Asian countries for infrastructure projects. And though this is a part of what the ADB and World Bank already provide, there is an enormous infrastructure gap. According to a 2010 report published by The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADB), Asia will need to invest as much as $8 trillion into its infrastructure in order to see a continuation in economic development over the next ten years. For China, this would mean much needed investments towards improving their environment, which impacts the country’s health conditions, as well as increasing macroeconomic stability and trade expansion. Resources available within the confines of existing international financial institutions simply aren’t enough to help bridge the gap.

World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim has welcomed the chance to collaborate with AIIB, stating, “The decisions we make this year, and the alliances we form in the years ahead, will help determine whether we have a chance to reach our goal of ending extreme poverty in just 15 years.” Kim sees great potential to be forces in economic development for emerging markets, through co-funding projects and working together towards the same financial goals for the global economy. There are also talks of a development institution, amongst the BRICS developing nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), however there is a struggle to reach a decision about how fund it and subsequently manage it.

Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, suggested the bank and the AIIB could co-finance infrastructure projects or work on regional integration. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, suggested the bank and the AIIB could co-finance infrastructure projects or work on regional integration. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

The unwavering lobbying by the United States, against the AIIB could prove to be ineffective and even have a negative long-term impact on trade. What is becoming clear to many is that the multilateral system at work to fight against poverty, while perpetuating sustainable global economic growth is of great benefit to all nations. And while the United States, along with few others, raise questions of concern and even reason for cautious acceptance, they are losing credibility and possibly turning the eyes upon themselves.

The question still remains, is it genuine concern over safeguarding, meeting standards and regulation or is it more about the loss of power, governance and leadership?