How an Ebola Vaccine Could Change the Next Deadly Outbreak

As Ebola ravages West Africa with more than 700 dead and more than 1,300 infected, officials are desperate for a way to stop the spread of the disease. One possible way to curb the infections is the use of a vaccine that would inoculate those at risk.

In September an Ebola vaccine developed by the U.S. National Institute for Health will be tested in humans for the first time in its first phase 1 clinical trial. If approved, it could be ready for use by mid to late 2015.

But even if deemed safe, the vaccine may not be a silver bullet to ending Ebola.

To test if the vaccine works, scientists will not expose the subjects to Ebola. Instead they will examine the subjects’ antibodies as they develop to see if their immune system creates defensive antibodies to fight Ebola the same way primate test subjects did. They will also monitor the subjects’ health to ensure the vaccine is safe to use.

If that study goes well, a larger study will be ordered. However, even if the larger study goes well, scientists will still be unsure about how effective the vaccine is because they ethically cannot purposefully expose people to the virus. Additionally Ebola is so rare they cannot give the vaccine to a population of people and know that th

 

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.