Liberia Vice President, Joseph Boakai, on Tuesday in Monrovia expressed the hope that the vaccines would prevent any other country from suffering the devastation experienced by Liberia.
“It’s our conviction that from this worthy exercise humankind will prevail over the deadly killer of man,” he said.
Liberia Information Minister, Lewis Brown, said the trial to test two vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline and New Link/Merck began on Monday in Monrovia, at the government-run Redemption Hospital.
Deborah Malac, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, said cooperation on the vaccines presented an opportunity for greater cooperation between the two countries on clinical research and developing the Liberian health system.
Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, which was funding a trial of the GSK vaccine in Britain and Mali, said it was fantastic that large-scale trials of the first candidate Ebola vaccine are getting under way in Liberia.
Liberia’s Deputy Health Minister, Tolbert Nyenswah, said he did not expect the vaccines to make a difference in the current outbreak.
He said that measures taken to end the outbreak included the ongoing Ebola treatment units, the contact tracing, community and social mobilisation.
“That is what is getting us to zero not the clinical trial for Ebola vaccines,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, scientists said the study, a final stage trial which hope to involve 27,000 volunteers at the heart of the epidemic after earlier safety trials in the UK, U.S. and other African countries, could be a turning point in the fight against the deadly virus, which has no known cure.
They said each volunteers would receive a small compensation package.
“Each of the vaccines contains a small harmless portion of the Ebola virus and may cause side effects in some people such as pain, redness, fever, headaches, mouth sores, tiredness, muscle, joint pain and loss of appetite,’’ they said.
The Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines (Prevail) said healthy volunteers above 18 years old who have no previous history of the virus will be selected.
Some scientists and aid workers are calling for trials to begin promptly in neighbouring Sierra Leone where transmission hotspots exist around the capital Freetown.