Monrovia - Emmanuel Lansana, the first vaccine volunteer, said his inoculation with the Ebola Vaccine on February 2, 2015 was met with a great resentment from his wife and other family members.
According to him, despite all that, he was undaunted because he was poised to contribute to global public health efforts.
Mr. Lansana said regardless of the consequences he could have faced, he felt obligated to raise the profile of Liberia to better heights in this researched naive country.
"Now all you can see, I'm well. I did not get sick except for minor side effects such as chills and headache. But those went away in a couple of hours,” he disclosed.
He called on Liberians to join the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL) research so that vaccines and therapeutics can be developed to tackle Ebola.
At the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) Thursday, the co-principal Investigator, Dr. Fatorma Bolay, said the clinical study aimed at bringing the Ebola outbreak under control in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone was launched on February 2, 2015.
He stated that 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.
PREVAIL was established in 2014 in response to a request made by former Liberian Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, for the United States Gov't to assist Liberia in the development of vaccines and therapeutics to tackle Ebola.
It is a joint clinical research partnership between the Liberian and U.S. governments through the Ministry of Health of Liberia and the US National Institutes of Health, or NIH.
PREVAIL 1 was the first large-scale Ebola study conducted in Liberia. 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, Monrovia.
“People who enrolled in the study had no reported history of Ebola virus disease. The participants were divided at random into three groups of 500 each,” he further stated.
Dr. Bolay disclosed that one group received one test vaccine, the second group the other test vaccine, and the third group received a placebo, or saltwater injection.
He says it was important to include the placebo so that our research team could compare how well the test vaccines worked.”
“The study was originally designed to enroll 27,000 volunteers to see whether the vaccines could prevent Ebola virus disease.
However, it had to be scaled back to be much smaller when the decline in new Ebola cases made it impossible to conduct the larger study. “
“Participants gave blood samples before vaccination and again at one week, one month, six months, and one year post-vaccination."
"The study team tested each of these samples for infection-fighting antibodies against the Ebola virus.
Dr. Bolay added that after one week, only modest levels of antibodies were seen with both vaccines.
However, by one month, 71 percent of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 84 percent of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients developed an antibody response compared with three percent of placebo recipients.
“At one year, the antibody responses were largely maintained in both groups: 64 percent of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 80 percent of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients had antibody response compared with seven percent of placebo recipients.”
He says 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.
Overall, no major safety concerns related to the vaccines were identified.
The results showed 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.
“Like my colleague and co-Principal Investigator on the study, Dr. Stephen Kennedy said two weeks ago, “by developing research capacity and infrastructure to answer questions about Ebola and other infectious disease that are threats to global health, PREVAIL has become a successful model for the implementation of clinical trials during health outbreaks in resource-constrained environments.”
The other co-leader in addition to Dr. Kennedy and myself is Dr. H. Clifford Lane, Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which sponsored the study in collaboration with the Liberian Ministry of Health (MoH).
He commended the volunteers and people of Liberia who went into the trial for their true collaboration which made it a success.