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Trial vaccines empower mankind over Ebola-VP Boakai

Baysah Kollie/Benjamin S. Taingay
Vice President Joseph N. Boakai
Vice President Joseph N. Boakai

( 4, 2015)-Vice President ,  Joseph Boakai, says the deployment of trial vaccines in Liberia marks the official beginning of mankind’s capacity to prevail over Ebola.

VP Boakai said: “People of the Mano River Basin feel the urge of rise to the occasion and step up their fight against Ebola, because they have seen its cruelest devastation.”

The Liberian Vice President made the statement Sunday, February 1, 2015 at the official launch of the ongoing Ebola trial vaccines at the Redemption Hospital on Bushrod Island in Monrovia and at other sites across Liberia.

Making remarks at the launch, Deputy Health Minister, Matthew Flomo, said the exercise is the genesis of a long-term engagement between Liberia and the United States for clinical research programs.

Deputy Minister Matthew said: “This collaboration has the potential to enhancing Liberians’ capacities in clinical research, especially at the Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, the Clinical Director of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Clifford Lane, noted: “The vaccination program might address questions of critical importance to Liberia’s health sector.

“By extension, the world is looking for ways of preventing and treating infectious diseases such as Ebola,” Director Lane also said.

In his statement, the Head of Liberia’s Ebola Incidence Management System, Tolbert Nyenswah, declared the trial vaccines’ launch in the country as a historic moment in the long quest to end the spread of the virus.

“Liberia has made history by accepting the vaccines’ trial, as scientists are now at the verge of saving Ebola patients’ lives.

According to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the study is under the auspices of the partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) Program.

The program is aimed at developing Liberia’s capacity in combating future outbreaks of the virus and other infectious diseases in the country.

The Ministry said each of the two vaccines contains a small harmless part of the Ebola virus that allows the body to fight or make an immune response to the pandemic, as both vaccines can cause side effects in some people.

Such side effects include pain, redness, or swelling in the arm, fever, headaches, as well as mouth sores, tiredness, muscle, joint pain and loss of appetite, it further noted.

PREVAIL comprises the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Liberian component of the program includes the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia Institute of Biomedical Research, Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority, as well as the National Research Institute Board.

Dr. Lane is one of the investigators of the scientific study, alongside two Liberians, Drs. Stephen Kennedy and Fatorma Bolay.

Nine, out of the first 6,000 trial vaccines, to be held at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, were Monday administered to individuals at the medical facility.

“The partnership is targeting 27,000 volunteers to be recruited following a period of community awareness and mobilization,” the Liberian Health Ministry also said.

“Only non-pregnant healthy people and non-Ebola survivors, age 18 or above, are eligible to take the trial vaccines.”   

It can be recalled that following the Ebola pandemic’s outbreak in West Africa in 2014, another vaccine, “Z-Map”, was used to treat two Ebola infected American nationals in the United States.

The Americans got infected with the virus in Liberia while treating patients at the ELWA Hospital, near Monrovia.

After the Americans’ recovery, three doses of the Z-Map Vaccine were imported into Liberia, through legal arrangement, to treat three Liberian volunteers, infected with the Ebola virus.

Unfortunately, Doctor Borbor was the only patient who eventually died, following the application of the vaccine on him.

Several months now after the use of the three doses of the Z-Map vaccine in Liberia, the status of the vaccine in Ebola treatment remains questionable.


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