The first large-scale trials of two Ebola vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline's Chad3-EBO-Z and Merck and Newlink's rVSV-ZEBOV, has begun in Liberia at the Redemption Hospital in the capital Monrovia. The study, led by the US National Institutes of Health, was launched at the hospital on Sunday at an event attended by Liberian Vice-President Joseph Boaikai.
The vaccines, which contain harmless elements of the deadly virus that trigger an immune response, were administered to 12 volunteers at the beginning of the trial which will eventually involve up to 27,000 adults. Melvin Johnson, head of the trial center said, "We received 20 persons who came voluntarily to take the vaccine but we are taking only 12 per day. The first 12 were given the vaccine and the balance will receive theirs on Tuesday."
The Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL), which is a collaboration between the United States and Liberia, said that trials would begin at other hospitals around Monrovia after the first 600 participants join the study. PREVAIL said during the previous smaller trials in other countries it has been seen that the drugs could cause pain, redness or swelling in the injected arm, as well as fever, headaches and tiredness, but added that the side-effects typically have been mild to moderate and have gone away on their own.
President Boaikai said, "We hope that this scientific undertaking we launch here today will get answers for the mystery surrounding this disease."