Hong Kong: An experimental Ebola vaccine manufactured by Merck & Co. was found to be highly protective against the deadly virus in a final-stage trial, becoming the first to prevent infection and providing one tool against future outbreaks.

The vaccine was studied in a trial involving more than 11,000 people in Guinea. Of those who received the shot, no Ebola cases were recorded after a ten-day incubation period, according to a study published in the medical journal, the Lancet.

The outbreak of Ebola from 2013 to 2016 triggered a public health crisis in West Africa, resulting in more than 11,300 deaths, primarily in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It also exposed holes in global infectious disease preparedness and highlighted the need for a vaccine.

“While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenceless," Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general for health systems and innovation at the World Health Organization, and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

The trial, called “Ebola ça Suffit"—French for “Ebola that’s enough"— was led by the WHO, Guinea’s ministry of health, Medecins sans Frontieres, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, as well as other international partners.

The vaccine is called rVSV-ZEBOV and manufactured by Merck Sharp & Dohme, a subsidiary of the US drugmaker. Merck this year received breakthrough therapy designation for the shot from the US Food and Drug Administration, which enables faster regulatory review of the vaccine once it is submitted, according to the WHO statement. Bloomberg

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