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Liberians rush for Ebola vaccine

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaDespite the ongoing debate over the Ebola trial vaccines here, hundreds of Liberians are said to be queuing on a daily basis to get vaccinated.

At least about 456 Liberians have so far participated in the Ebola trial vaccination process, with investigators saying the present figure is by far  higher than anticipated at this stage.

The trial is currently taking place at the  Redemption Hospital in the Borough of New Kru Town, a Monrovia suburb.

Liberia is amongst the three hardest hit West African countries with death figures put little over 3000, However, infection rate has dropped drastically with the country reporting only five cases as at last week.

Dr. Stephen Kennedy, a co-investigator said they had targeted 12 persons on a daily, but to the surprise of the team, the number is rapidly increasing.

Speaking at the daily Ebola  press briefings at the Ministry of Information in Monrovia on Monday, Dr. Kennedy said last week, a total of 108 persons took the vaccine and another batch of 348 have already booked tickets to be vaccinated.

He stressed that the exercise is not just about administering vaccines, but the participants are also drilled through an informed consent process to know the side effects of the vaccines.

Dr. Kennedy said this week there is space for 144 persons and in phase two of the exercise, 600 candidates are expected to take the vaccines.

He said the second day of the trial, 24 persons, including himself (Dr. Kennedy) and Dr. Francis Kateh took the vaccines.

According to him, phase one of the vaccine studies were carried out in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Europe, USA and Mali, amongst other nations.

Dr. Kennedy said the first phase of the vaccine trial in those countries had side effects like headaches, fever, weakness, joint and body pains.

He said in Liberia, the side effects being experienced by volunteers are much better, detailing that out of 108 persons, who took the vaccines, nine suffered from headache;, six had fever, and three experienced weakness.

He noted that the two Doctors, who took the vaccine, experienced both headaches and fever, but one person is experiencing more than one of the side effects, and the fever or headaches did not stay or last more than two days.

Public criticism against the vaccines had earlier mounted here, with lawmakers and ordinary citizens expressing concern for poor education or awareness before the kickoff, a concern that Dr, Kennedy agreed with during a news conference last week.

By Ethel A. Tweh

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