Ebola vaccine may prove instrumental in ending Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The tragic Ebola epidemic remains an extraordinary public health crisis. This outbreak has highlighted the need for continuing cooperation among public health professionals in government, industry and academia to help bring the Ebola epidemic in West Africa under control as quickly as possible. On 11 December, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance — a Geneva charity that helps low-income countries to afford vaccines — announced that it would commit up to US$300 million to purchase 12 million doses of Ebola vaccines, and up to another US$90 million to help roll out the vaccines and rebuild the health systems in Ebola-affected countries.

These commitments depend on the World Health Organization recommending a vaccine for use. As the West African Ebola epidemic enters its second year small batches of experimental vaccines are on the cusp of reaching people in the affected countries. Vaccines are a critical component of public health arsenal, and a safe, effective Ebola vaccine may prove instrumental in ending this epidemic and preventing future epidemics.

Many vaccines come with side effects, and Ebola inoculations are no different. Nature tackles the questions that will determine whether vaccines play a role in ending the current epidemic — and can prevent future flare-ups.One big question is whether the GSK–NIAID vaccine will need to be accompanied with a booster shot.

Booster,such as the one manufactured by Bavarian Nordic, might be the only way to get an Ebola vaccine that prevents infection. Bavarian Nordic announced First Subject Dosed with MVA-BN.

Recent preclinical research, based on promising preclinical results, has shown that by employing an MVA-based booster dose, the vaccine may offer a more robust and durable immune response -Tests of vaccines against other diseases have shown that boosters can drastically increase the levels of infection-battling antibodies and T cells, a type of white blood cell.

Adrian Hill, a proponent of a booster and vaccine scientist at the University of Oxford, UK, who is leading a safety trial of the GSK–NIAID vaccine in the United Kingdom, told a Washington DC conference on Ebola immunology that Bavarian Nordic’s booster worked as expected.

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