Monday June 24, 2019

Chinese scientists develop Ebola vaccine; new drug found safe in early human trials

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Scientist of the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and the Tianjin Can Sino Biotechnology, have developed a new Ebola virus vaccine which will have lasting immunity. This vaccine has been found to be safe in the first phase, one trial based on the 2014 strain of the virus.

Until now, all tested Ebola virus vaccines have been based on the virus strain from the Zaire outbreak in 1976.

“On the basis of our findings, we believe that the Ebola vaccine we assessed has some potential,” said researcher Fengcai Zhu from the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Prevention and Control in China.

“A significant advantage of this type of vaccine is that stable and much easier to store or transport in tropical areas with inadequate cold-chain capacity, such as Africa,” Zhu added.

For the trial, 120 healthy Chinese adults were randomly assigned in equal numbers to receive placebo, a low dose, or high dose of the vaccine.

The researchers found that 28 days after vaccination, 38 out of 40 participants in the low-dose group and all 40 of those in the high-dose group had a positive immune response to the vaccine, with participants in the high-dose group producing higher quantities of antibodies than those in the low-dose group.

However, the researchers are not sure if this vaccine will be the perfect vaccine to fight Ebola virus.
“Whether this candidate vaccine could become a final vaccine for widespread use against Ebola outbreaks is still uncertain, because of the issues of HIV-1 acquisition rates and the pre-existing immunity, especially in west Africa,” Zhu noted.

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Report: 1.8 Millions in Central African Republic Suffering Acute Food Shortages

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says, unfortunately, the hunger crisis will not be over when the lean season comes to an end

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FILE - Children recovering from malnutrition play at the Children hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. VOA

A new report finds nearly half of all people in the Central African Republic are suffering acute food shortages. The latest assessment by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a joint effort by eight U.N. and International non-governmental organizations, finds more than 1.8 million people in C.A.R. are facing an emergency food crisis.

Civil war in the Central African Republic erupted in December 2013 and continues to take a heavy toll on its people.  The country is in the midst of its so-called lean season, which goes from May to August.

This is the period between harvests when people have depleted their food stocks and hunger is particularly acute. The World Food Program reports nearly 2 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from during this period.

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The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war. Wikimedia Commons

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says, unfortunately, the hunger crisis will not be over when the lean season comes to an end.

“Nearly 1.35 million people—almost 30 percent of the population analyzed—will be in severe acute food insecurity including nearly 275,000 people in emergency during the harvest period, meaning September and October,” Verhoosel says.

The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war.  Nearly 700,000 people remain displaced within the C.A.R.

The signing of a peace agreement in the capital Bangui in February gave rise to hopes the crisis in the country would soon be at an end.  Security conditions remain volatile, however, and attacks are continuing with increased ferocity in several parts of the country where armed groups that did not sign on to the agreement are in control.

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The World Food Program assists about 600,000 people in the country every month. Wikimedia Commons

Ongoing insecurity is hampering humanitarian operations and making it difficult, if not impossible, to provide food and other crucial aid to the civilians caught in the midst of this violence.

ALSO READ: WHO: Millions of People with Epilepsy Reluctant to Seek Treatment Because of Stigma

The World Food Program assists about 600,000 people in the country every month.  Verhoosel says WFP and its partners are trying to reach more people in urgent need of aid.

He says internally displaced people and refugees are the most vulnerable.  He says they are totally dependent upon international assistance to meet their food and nutritional needs. (VOA)