The Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL) has received high marks for its ongoing research program in Liberia. PREVAIL is a joint Liberia-U.S. clinical research program established in 2014 in response to a request by former Liberian Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwinnegale to then U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to assist Liberia develop vaccines and therapeutics to tackle Ebola.
During Community Engagement and other Social Mobilization and Communication (SMC) activities carried out in October in Margibi, Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties, residents and other stakeholders hailed the Liberia-US Clinical Research Partnership for taking time to visit their various communities to spread the “good news,” which includes the benefits of PREVAIL activities for national and global public health.
The PREVAIL 1 Vaccine Study, whose results were recently announced, made the most news as Liberians were upbeat about the prospects of contributing to research on a vaccine that may be used in the country in future Ebola outbreaks. October 2017 was a significant milestone for the vaccine study and as more and more people were reached through community engagements.
In early October, PREVAIL announced in a press release the results of the PREVAIL 1 Vaccine Study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. On 26 October, study Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Fatorma Bolay addressed a MICAT press briefing and said the results show that the two test vaccines, cAd3-EBOZ and rVSV-ZEBOV, pose no major safety concerns and can produce immune responses within one month after vaccination that last for at least one year.
Dr. Bolay noted that some participants who received the test vaccines had temporary mild to moderate side effects, including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue. These side effects varied from one person to another. But overall, no major safety concerns related to the vaccines were identified.
He said PREVAIL conducts collaborative biomedical research in accordance with best practices to advance science, strengthen health policy and practice, and improve the health of Liberians and people worldwide.
Dr. Bolay further said that people who received the vaccines have successfully developed durable antibody responses. The trial,
according the Liberian scientist, suggests that VSV Ebola vaccine could be used to save lives in any future epidemic as it shows better potential than the other vaccine tested.
Between February 2 and April 30, 2015, 1,500 men and women ages 18 and older were enrolled into the study at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town in Monrovia. People who enrolled in the study have no reported history of Ebola virus disease.
Also speaking at MICAT, Mr. Emmanuel Lassana, the first participant in the PREVAIL 1Vaccine Study, shared his experiences with the local media. “I was the first to take the vaccine on February 2, 2015 at a time when there were a lot of misconceptions about the vaccine.
But I took it anyhow to help Liberia develop the vaccines to cure the world. And as you can see I’m well and sound,” Mr. Emmanuel Lassana added.
By Bridgett Milton