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The first trial of an Ebola vaccine in Guinea was “100 percent” successful, the World Health Organization said in a news release Friday (July 31). Although the results are preliminary the WHO looks at this as a “game-changer” in battling the deadly virus.

Reports BBC News:

There were no proven drugs or vaccines against the virus at the start of the largest outbreak of Ebola in history, which began in Guinea in December 2013.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the findings, being published in the Lancet, could be a “game-changer”. Experts said the results were “remarkable”.

This trial centred on the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was started by the Public Health Agency of Canada and then developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck.

It combined a fragment of the Ebola virus with another safer virus in order to train the immune system to beat Ebola.

A unique clinical trial took place in Guinea. When a patient was discovered, their friends, neighbours and family were vaccinated to create a “protective ring” of immunity.

Since thousands were infected during the Ebola outbreak, concentrated mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leon, results of the vaccination trial is a good sign that history won’t be repeating itself. “Having seen the devastating effects of Ebola on communities and even whole countries with my own eyes, I am very encouraged by today’s news,” said  Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, who spearheaded a $10 million global funding pledge to fight Ebola.

The vaccine was offered to 4,000 people, with a trial period beginning in March, and ending this week. They were given the vaccination both immediately after contact with a someone carrying the disease, and a few weeks later. For the expeditious recipients, there were no traces of Ebola during the 10 day gestational period, in which an anti-body is built. Only 16 of the remaining 2,380 people who got the vaccine later, contracted the virus.

On a related note, Merck, the pharmaceutical giant behind the vaccine, has been sued before over misrepresenting the effectiveness of vaccinations. The same can be said for GlaskoSmithKline, the company behind an earlier reported Ebola vaccine.

Photo: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson