The United States-Liberia led Partnership for Research on the Ebola Vaccine or PREVAIL, currently involved in the ongoing trial vaccine here to find a cure to the Ebola Virus, says it is targeting 6,000 persons to participate in the experimental trial of two potential vaccines for the Ebola Virus Disease.
Co-principal Investigator for PREVAIL, Dr. Stephen Kennedy, who spoke with reporters Thursday in his office on Broad Street, said 60 Liberians have already participated in the trial and in coming weeks that number will gradually grow until the targeted figure is met.
He also pointed out that Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya, among other countries would form part of segment two of the exercise in coming months to reach the 6,000 target.
Dr. Kennedy, who is a Liberian Doctor leading the vaccination trial process in the country, said Liberian doctors are heading the process as the global community’s eyes are on the country, adding, “This is the most energetic study probably in history.”
According to report, the study started in August 2014 in the US State of Maryland and is now in stage two, which could be concluded in a year upon its second phase that is the clinical trial of vaccines named Chad3-EBO-Z and rVSV-ZEBOV.
The study code-name Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) is a large clinical exercise that is being sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is a part of the US National Institutes of Health. The study will assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines that are designed to prevent the Ebola Virus.
Dr. Kennedy narrated that the trials of the vaccine were conducted in the United States, Europe and Mali before coming to Liberia to undergo stage two; he added that stage three, when ready, would incorporate more participants in the trial process and that would take 10 to 15 years before the entire process is completed.
The Liberian Doctor said events in the media, including the online edition of an article published in one of the local dailies here on Wednesday in which it was reported that the vaccine trial had been halted, prompted the impromptu press conference on Thursday to clarify that the information is false and misleading.
Dr. Kennedy, who admitted to have taken the vaccine himself, said the therapeutic drug should have been used for the trial but was pulled out of the process on recommendations made by the U.S. based Food and Drug Administration or FDA. He however added that the trial is ongoing and all stakeholders are impressed with the turnout of Liberians for the process.
It can be recalled that speaking recently during the launch of the exercise at the Redemption Hospital in the Borough of New Kru Town outside Monrovia, Deputy Health Minister Matthew Flomo, said Liberia would contribute to “global public health and long term fight to combat EVD globally” if the trials of the vaccines were successful.
He pointed out that the initiative is a commencement of a long term engagement between Liberia and the United States for Clinical Research Program to advance research and combat other medical conditions.
The deputy minister noted that the collaboration between the two countries has the “potential to enhance the capacity of Liberians in clinical research, especially at the Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research.”
“Today, we are testing two investigational candidate vaccines. Liberia, a small country on the West Coast of Africa, stands to make history if one or both vaccines are found to be effective,” Minister Flomo emphasized.
Speaking further, the acting Health Minister disclosed that the process underlying the trial of the vaccines in Liberia was based on a request made by the then Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale to the US Secretary of Health for the two nations to engage in collaborative efforts to combat the EVD.
He used the occasion to commend President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for creating the necessary enabling environment for the conduct of consultations on the initiative across the country.
By Ben P. Wesee