Kenya trials for vaccines enter final stages

Wednesday June 6 2018

DRC ebola, vaccination

A nurse in the Congo administers an experimental vaccine following an Ebola outbreak. Researchers in Kenya are finalising human trials of Ebola vaccines. AFP PHOTO | JUNIOR KANNAH 

By ANGELA OKETCH
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Researchers at the Kericho-based 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.