MONROVIA, Montserrado – Officials of the World Health Organization say an Ebola vaccine has shown to be highly effective at preventing the deadly disease.
The vaccine was recently administered in Guinea, the origin of the outbreak, which spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
According to the World Health Organization, the vaccine has so far been 100 percent effective during tests in Guinea. The Lancet medical journal has published the preliminary results and analyses.
The Foreign Minister of Norway, Borge Brende, told The Guardian that the vaccine may be a “silver bullet” against Ebola. Norway provided funding for the vaccine trial.
The Ebola vaccine swept through West Africa last year and killed more than 11,000 people, most of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
At the same time, Liberians have given diverse views about the vaccine.
Sekajibo A. Sekajibo said the vaccine should not be done on humans but on animals. His response reflects a skepticism that some Liberians have over the Ebola outbreak and the subsequent vaccine tests that were conducted.
He added that it is an experimental vaccine and should not be tried on people in Liberia.
â€œThese people consider Africans to be monkeys so that is why they want to try this vaccine because cannot do that on themselves.â€ Sekajibo said there should be some more experimental tests done before they can bring it to Liberia.
â€œThey do not know the effect of this vaccine to humans so that is why they want to do it on us,â€ he said.
Another Liberian expressed a less cynical view. Charles Rogers said, â€œI believe that [World Health Organization] will not bring anything that will add to the health problems of the Liberian people.â€
â€œI am of the conviction that they have had series of test done so Iâ€™m encouraging other Liberians to try the vaccine,â€ he said.
Rogers added that the vaccine is a good sign for the eradication of Ebola from West Africa.
Expressing confidence in the WHO, which also provided funding for the vaccine trial, Paul Somah said, â€œThe WHO is responsible for the health of everyone globally so if they can come up with a vaccine that was tested and it is satisfactory to them, then it means well for us.â€
â€œAll our government needs to do is to work with the World Health Organization to ensure that the vaccine is administered here,â€ Somah said.
In a phone interview, Tolbert Nyenswah, the head of the Incident Management System â€“ the entity responsible for containing the Ebola outbreak â€“ said the Ministry of Health welcomes this development. When asked about the steps the government of Liberia would be taking to administer the vaccine to Liberians, he said the Ministry of Health already has a process in place for distributing existing vaccines. â€œItâ€™s just a matter of adding a new vaccine.”
As the results from the vaccine trials are only preliminary, the vaccine is unlikely to be used across the entire population but rather with at-risk individuals.
Featured photo: NIAID