In the midst of the largest outbreak of hemorrhagic fever resulting from the Ebola virus efforts to find a vaccine have been accelerated dramatically in the hope that a viable one can be found. There are two potential vaccines being testing at the moment with ongoing human trials. The real question is how quickly these vaccines can be produced and distributed if the trials prove successful.


By Photo Credit: James Gathany Content Providers(s): CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The first and most notable is in development in partnership between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and GlaxoKlineSmith. The group announced late August 2014 that they would be expediting their efforts with clinical trials beginning shortly thereafter. The vaccine has made progress to date but requires careful testing to ensure its safety and effectiveness in humans. Newlink, in partnership with the Department of Defense, has been working on a vaccine and several other companies are also currently researching therapeutic drugs.

To date no vaccines, drugs or treatments have received approval for the treatment of Ebola. Several experimental treatments have been used in the recent outbreak with varying results and far too little data has been gathered to advocate their efficacy. ZMapp has garnered significant interest as a treatment in the United States but no formal studies have been completed.

The CDC estimates that at least 70% of Ebola cases would need to be isolated to prevent further spread of the virus. Reports that Liberia and Sierra Leone have been overwhelmed by Ebola and are unable to effectively isolate patients could result in less than 70% of cases being quarantined. If Ebola continues to spread without restraint a vaccine or drug based cure may be the only way to prevent a global pandemic.