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Ebola vaccine “extremely promising” in Guinea, WHO says

The ebola vaccine, which has been trialled in Guinea since March, has 100% efficacy and is “extremely promising,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

However, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, the independent body of international experts that conducted the review, advised that the trial should continue and expand.

Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, said: "This is an extremely promising development… An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks."

Although the vaccine showed 100% effectiveness in individuals, more conclusive evidence is needed on its capacity to protect populations through what is called “herd immunity,” the WHO said.

This occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity.

The Guinea trial began in affected communities on 23 March 2015 and so far more than 4,000 close contacts of almost 100 Ebola patients, including family members, neighbours, and co-workers, have voluntarily participated in it.

"This is Guinea's gift to West Africa and the world,” Dr Sakoba Keita, Guinea's national coordinator for the ebola response, said in response to the findings.

The vaccine will now include 13 to 17-year-old and possibly 6 to 12-year-old children on the basis of new evidence of the vaccine's safety

Bertrand Draguez, medical director at Médecins sans Frontières said they are now also conducting a trial of the same vaccine, this time on frontline workers.

"These people have worked tirelessly and put their lives at risk every day to take care of sick people. If the vaccine is effective, then we are already protecting them from the virus,” he said, and recommended that all affected countries do the same.